I’m a mother of two girls, aged three and one. We live in Didsbury and I want to express my support for the bid for a new school in the area. The school, if the bid is successful, will be a sister school to the existing Didsbury C of E School and St James and Emmanuel Church, though open to all faiths (or none).
I’d love for our two young girls to attend the existing Didsbury C of E, one of the top Primary schools in Manchester and rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Yet this year, Didsbury C of E Primary school received 180 applications for 30 reception places. This is a powerful and disheartening figure for parents who want the best education for their children.
In the latest issue of the church’s Together magazine, Revd Nick Bundock discusses this statistic as one of the key reasons for the bid to establish a new school in the area. As he explains, the school is intended to widen choice and alleviate pressure on all schools in the area which experience the same problems of oversubscription.
As of August 2013, 81 of the new free schools are operating with a further 200 due to open in September. Free Schools are currently the only means of opening a new school; they are state-funded and independent of Local Authority control, which means that they have some freedom – to choose the length of school day or term, their curriculum, teacher’s pay and how they spend their budget.
The bid for the West Didsbury CE Primary School will be submitted on 9th Sept. I was recently reading, on the bid’s website about the concepts of the school. Here’s why they appeal to me as a mother.
The school will be founded on three core values:
- Belonging: The school wants to foster mutual care, respect and trust, alongside a sense of belonging to the community of Didsbury. As well as encouraging a caring and responsible attitude, I believe that a sense of belonging is one of the markers of health and wellbeing, and I would love to encourage this in my daughters.
- Believing: West Didsbury CE Primary School wants children to believe in themselves and their potential. I work in Public Health for a local authority, and we are frequently trying to think of ways of ‘raising aspirations’ in some of our more deprived communities; believing in yourself is the key to not only health and wellbeing, but to any future success in life. My daughters are only three and one, yet we’re already working hard to instil a strong sense of self-worth in them.
- Becoming: The new school wants children to challenge, to have the confidence to change the world around them, to be risk takers. Now this, I love. I remember the careers lady at school telling me I should work in a bank as it was ‘safe’. I didn’t want to. I loved English and wanted to study literature. Luckily, I did and am very glad I didn’t take her advice. We need the confidence to go for our dreams, to unlock our potential.
I’m further encouraged by some recent positive media on recently opened schools. A BBC News article recently reported that three quarters of the first 24 free schools were rated by Ofsted as ‘good or outstanding’.
Another article in The Economist discusses the power of free schools to unlock potential as they are assured of all the freedoms of a private school save over admissions.
Using Greenwich Free School as an example, situated in one of London’s “grimmest” areas, the article relates how the originators set about creating the “perfect school”. This involved visiting countries such as Sweden and America and subsequent curriculum changes such as dropping computer skills for computer programming, and citizenship for politics and economics. Crucially, the students engage – no pupil has been expelled and detentions are few.
I’m supporting the bid for a West Didsbury CE Primary School, alongside many others in and around the community of Didsbury. For more information on the proposals for the West Didsbury CE School, and to register your own support, visit the website at www.westdidsburyceprimary.co.uk.