Locating Cheshire Free School in Daresbury

Regular visitors to our website, or readers of our Facebook posts, will know how passionate we are about the best quality of opportunities for students.  Consequently we are planning our application for the Cheshire Free School to be located in Daresbury, possibly in Daresbury Enterprise Park itself. The principal reason for this is to be as close as possible to businesses and research organisations at the cutting edge of science.  We have always wanted to provide opportunities for our students to work alongside academic establishments, research organisations and businesses in order for them to assist in research, where practical, gain valuable work experience and the level of business and entrepreneurial skills and understanding which will give our students a distinct edge when applying to universities. Daresbury also benefits from excellent road links from Chester, Warrington, South Manchester and Northwich situated as it is on Junction 11 of the M56.  Its proximity to Runcorn East and Warrington Central/Bank Quay stations also opens access to students from Runcorn, Northwich and Warrington itself. There are also excellent bus links from nearby areas. Thinking ahead, the Halton Curve development. scheduled for late 2018, will open up access from Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street and improve opportunities for students from this side of the Mersey where post-16 provision is patchy. It is our opinion that this improved location will offer better opportunities to identify a more exciting building for the Cheshire Free School. We continue to need your support in this application.  Please click here to register interest.  It does not commit you as a parent or a student, but does help...

University Applications Fall

UCAS figures, just announced report a fall of 4% (more than 25,000) in the number of people applying for UK university places.  Of course, some of the fall is the result of Brexit (5% less EU students applying), and some of it is the result of a rise in tuition fees and in the increase in interest rates from 4.6% to 6.1% from this autumn. However, underlying these figures  and even the higher numbers of applicants in past years, is the relatively small number of students from more disadvantaged backgrounds who apply and eventually attend these universities.  In 2016, The Independent reported a drop in the percentage of students from this group admitted to 7 of  the 24 universities comprising the Russell Group, which includes Oxford and Cambridge.  This is despite significant sums of money being spent on encouraging just this group. The Cheshire Free School is committed to working towards addressing this issue in a very significant way. Why are we so bothered? Three members of the ‘core’ group developing this bid are first generation university attendees and are therefore passionately committed to the transformational power of education.  All three come from working class backgrounds, one being an RAF child, who today would have attracted Pupil Premium funding because of the number of schools she attended as a result of constant relocations.  All three have a huge amount of experience in education developing strategies to help students reach their full potential, which may well include Russell Group universities.  Also in our core group is a Cambridge graduate and he is able to support the programme of experiences and activities,...

Why do you promote the sciences so strongly?

By Annette France, Chair of Governors of the Cheshire Free School   Why do you promote the sciences so strongly? This is a question I regularly faced as a headteacher, and it is true that I have long been passionate about the STEM subjects. I have three principal reasons for promoting these subjects so vigorously which cover many people’s motivations: 1. Solving the major problems for the future: With the greatest respect to all the other professions, it is only those with scientific, engineering and technological skills who will help to solve the biggest problems which face our world in the future. For example: cures for major medical problems, including more-effective antibiotics; alternative and cleaner fuel sources; innovative approaches to design and manufacturing…….. 2. Promoting women and their achievements: The WES (Women’s Engineering Society) website www.wes.org.uk is very clear about the discrepancy in numbers of women in engineering in particular (Figures obtained from a variety of sources and updated January 2016). Many of the statistics quote on this site are very positive and should be encouraging to female students eg in a survey of 300 female engineers, 84% were either happy or extremely happy with their career choice and engineering students are second only to medics in securing full-time jobs and earning good salaries – more of this below. There are very positive signs such as the very small gender difference in uptake in STEM subjects at GCSE, but only 20% of Physics A Level students are girls, a situation which has not changed in the last 25 years, and the proportion of women studying engineering and physics has...

The PBL Course in Medicine

Having submitted our application, we are now waiting to see whether we will be offered an interview by the Department for Education. We should hear about this before Christmas. Meanwhile, please keep your fingers crossed for us. It will help us enormously in our application if we have substantial evidence of demand, so please continue to spread the word. The more people who register interest, the more likely we are to be successful. Meanwhile, we are offering the problem-based learning course in medicine that Dr Vim Jesudason has developed for sixth-form students at local schools. The PBL course will start on Tuesday January 13th at Frodsham Parish Hall, Church Street, Frodsham (next to Costa Coffee) from 5.30 – 6.30pm. It will cost £5 a session. Parking is available behind the church hall, or in Eddisbury Square, a little further up Church Street. You can find out more about the course, and express an interest in enrolling, at pblcourse.co.uk. – This is the same course that we intend to offer at the free school, but please note it is only suitable for students currently taking A levels in Biology and Chemistry, who are aiming for admission to medicine, veterinary or dentistry degrees, or biological sciences at...

Our application has been submitted!

We have finally submitted our application to the Department for Education, after months of hard work. You can see the Chester Chronicle article here. We are immensely grateful to all the parents who have supported us by registering an interest for their child, and also to the professionals from local colleges and independent schools who have given their time and expertise to us freely. We still need people to register an interest, so please spread the word! The more people who register support, the more likely we are to succeed in the next stage of our application. We hope to hear in a month or two whether we will be invited to an interview at the DfE in...

A milestone

The last few weeks have been really busy for us. We were still working on ‘evidence of demand’ by attending the Cheshire Game and Country Fair at the Cheshire showground at the end of August, but mainly by doing a large mailshot. We sent many letters by post, and hand-delivered others, and these have resulted in more registers of interest. However, we still need to gather evidence of demand. We stand a much better chance of succeeding in our application if we have many more than the minimum number of registrations. In addition, we needed to finalise the application. We needed to draw up a very detailed education plan, right down to the numbers of teachers we would need, a draft timetable, and details of policies and procedures. And all this needed to be tightly budgeted with all the various costs of the proposed free school included. We already had a strong team of supporters on board, but ideally we needed a couple more. We were delighted in the last couple of weeks that an excellent bursar from a local independent school volunteered to give us help, and also a Vice Principal from a local college. Both of these people are kindly giving help and support in their free time, and we greatly value their expertise. The final application was well over a hundred pages long, and we needed to get two copies to the Department for Education by midday on Friday 10th October, together with several spreadsheets. In addition we needed to email the documents to the DfE. Just printing and packaging the documents took several hours as...