What is happening with QE and the Free School proposal?

It is just 22 working days since CMAT – the Trust behind our bid – was invited to take over the operation of Queen Eleanor to deliver the school that Stamford so clearly demanded. A lot of essential groundwork is now taking place to turn the vision into a reality.

Detailed discussions and negotiations with staff, governors, the Department for Education, parents and pupils are underway. These cover issues such as finance, staffing structures and TUPE, Commercial Transfer Agreements, land and assets transfer, and school naming.

CMAT is moving very quickly – this will be one of the swiftest transfers ever achieved – but none of these discussions is yet finalised. We expect the legal transfer to take place on October 1st, 2014, although CFBT (the trust that currently runs the school) has agreed to allow CMAT to assume the practical leadership of the school from the start of the new school year. We are extremely grateful to them for this.

The CMAT team is already working hard to transfer the Trust’s strong vision, ethos and curriculum structure to the school. The current House Structure has been realigned to match that in other Trust schools to ensure an immediate impact on the academic support structures in place for students.

2014-15 will be a year of transition as we work towards delivering the vision ready for the first cohort to arrive at our new school in September 2015. Removing some of the start-up risks associated with the free school bid (such as finding and establishing a site, securing temporary accommodation, designing and constructing new buildings) will allow us to focus more time and energy on the core business of delivering on our educational promise.

September and October will be exciting months as we share more about the initial outcomes of this current period of intense work behind the scenes, and we begin to see the transformation of the school. We are confident that the more you learn of our plans, the more you will share our belief that we are now in a position to deliver the school that supporters of the free school bid hoped for and that Stamford deserves.

Many thanks for your continued interest and support.

Stamford Queen Eleanor Statement

Statement from the governors of Stamford Queen Eleanor, ‘Exciting New Partnership Announced’.

Following discussions involving The Department for Education (DfE), it has been announced that Stamford Queen Eleanor School (SQES) is to join the highly successful Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT).

The Governors of SQES, CfBT (the School’s existing sponsor) and CMAT have resolved to explore how such a partnership could be expedited to deliver the best possible outcome for the school, its students and the people of Stamford.

Jonathan Selwyn, Chair of Governors at Stamford Queen Eleanor, stated: “This is a new chapter for Stamford Queen Eleanor. We are excited about the opportunity of working with CMAT and feel there is a good match between their vision and passion for education and the ambition of the governing body and staff.

We are very proud of the achievement of our students and staff and are delighted that the significant progress that we have made has been recognised by the Government. We are very much looking forward to building on that success through the proposed partnership with CMAT.  We also respect the work and commitment of the proposers of the Free School and believe that now is the time to come together to deliver truly excellent and continually improving education for Stamford.”

CMAT, alongside a group of local parents and educational professionals, submitted an application to open a Free School in Stamford earlier this year.

Although the educational vision and support for the Free School was compelling, the basic need for school places in the area, the potential impact on SQES and the costs to the public purse led the DfE to seek an alternative method to deliver the vision.  As a result, the Department has invited CMAT to explore the delivery of its educational vision at Stamford Queen Eleanor.

A statement from the Department said: “The Department and CfBT Schools Trust recognise that the Stamford Free School application received strong parental demand for a school which would deliver the vision offered by CMAT.

“Having considered the local circumstances, we believe that the best solution would be for CMAT to seek to become the sponsor of Stamford Queen Eleanor, rather than establish a new school.”

Mark Woods, Executive Principal of CMAT, said: “This was not the approach we had planned as it was not an option that was originally on the table, but we are delighted to have the opportunity to take forward our vision of education in Stamford, and thank everyone that supported our original application. The original Proposer group have worked incredibly hard on this project, and we very pleased that they will support us in pursuing this alternative solution.”

“Stamford Queen Eleanor has made significant progress in recent years and we believe our ethos will help drive this forward positively and rapidly. The Trust has a very clear vision for all its schools – to provide high-quality education for all at the heart of our communities.

“We look forward to working with all members of the Stamford community, the existing governors, and the proposer group to create the highly-successful, popular school that Stamford deserves and demands.”

Chris Tweedale, CEO of CfBT Schools Trust, explained: “There is simply not enough demand for two secondary schools in the area and so we are working with Stamford Queen Eleanor School, CMAT and the Department for Education to agree an exciting way forward that is in the best interests of the school, students, parents and the community.

“We have seen fantastic progress at Stamford Queen Eleanor School since it joined CfBT Schools Trust. Last year, the school recorded its best ever GCSE results with 75 per cent of students achieving 5 or more A*-C grades. Our priority is to ensure this success continues.”

By joining CMAT, the school would implement the Trust’s distinct set of values and ethos to help drive improvements which have been developed at the Trust’s founding school, Swavesey Village College – a school considered Outstanding in every respect by Ofsted.

The school will continue to apply the same admissions code, and all pupils that are already attending the school will continue to do so.

CMAT value the success of every child and place the sharing of excellent education practice at the core of this value. The Trust is committed to improving the quality of education, through an unrelenting commitment to improvement and collaboration.

The Trust is committed to maintaining these core principles– working with schools where it believes it can help and who in turn can enrich and provide real benefit for the existing CMAT family.

Update

The government has today announced a number of new Free Schools. In our case, rather than approve our application to open Stamford Free School, the Department for Education has invited the Trust behind our bid (CMAT) to explore the delivery of our educational vision at the town’s existing school, Stamford Queen Eleanor.

A statement from the Department said: “The Stamford Free School application received strong parental demand for a school which would deliver the vision offered by CMAT. Having considered the local circumstances, we believe that the best value for money solution would be for CMAT to seek to become the sponsor of Stamford Queen Eleanor, rather than establish a new school.”

Mark Woods, Executive Principal of CMAT, said: “This was not the approach we had planned as it was not an option that was originally on the table, but we are delighted to have the opportunity to take forward our vision of education in Stamford, and thank everyone that supported our original application. Stamford Queen Eleanor has made significant progress in recent years and we believe our ethos will help drive this forward positively and rapidly. The Trust has a very clear vision for all its schools – to provide high-quality education for all at the heart of our communities. We look forward to working with all members of the Stamford community, the existing governors, and the proposer group to create the highly-successful, popular school that Stamford deserves and demands.”

By joining CMAT, Stamford Queen Eleanor would implement the Trust’s distinct set of values and ethos to help drive improvements which have been developed at the Trust’s founding school, Swavesey Village College – a school considered Outstanding in every respect by Ofsted.

Although this is not the outcome we were expecting, we hope you will agree that the end result – a transformation of educational opportunities for the children of Stamford – is one that we should all support.