Decision on Thomas Lucas Academy announced

On 12th April 2017, The Thomas Lucas Academy Trust was notified by the Department for Education that it was not successful with its application to open the Thomas Lucas Academy Free School in Redbridge.

The team behind the application would like to thank all of the school’s supporters and generous partners for the significant support that they have given to back the application over the past year; all so enthusiastic and supportive at each stage. The school would have made a profound difference, and this is a sad moment for all who have joined the Thomas Lucas Academy Trust on this journey.

The feedback on the Thomas Lucas Academy proposal from the Department for Education was overall very positive, in particular they stated that it had;

  • “a compelling vision for your school, with computing and technology as your chosen specialism and pathways to meet the needs of visually impaired children.
  • A broad and balanced education plan embedded with your chosen specialism at the heart of its delivery.
  • A strong group of individuals with recent and relevant experience, and a passion and commitment to open this school. You also had an appropriate structure in place to support that, responding to feedback on an earlier application.
  • Good financial planning which demonstrates the ability to manage a free school budget.”

However the Department for Education suggested that they have decided there is not enough need for additional school places in Redbridge. They have now identified that it would be difficult to deliver another school in the proposed area, beyond those already planned.

For now the Thomas Lucas Academy Trust will regroup and look at the options for the future, as its vision for the Thomas Lucas Academy is unwavering and more relevant than ever, and its commitment to making this a reality remains.

Thomas Lucas Academy invited to interview with Department for Education

The Thomas Lucas Academy Trust (TLAT) have made it through to the final interview stage of the free school application process in their bid to open a co-educational secondary school and sixth form in Redbridge, called the Thomas Lucas Academy.

In late January members of the trust will be interviewed by the Department for Education to ensure that the TLAT meets the government’s rigorous standards for free schools. In particular, over the two hour interview, the trust will be asked about their proposed education plan, capacity to run the school and how it will match the aspirations and demands of Redbridge’s families.

Member of the Thomas Lucas Academy proposal group, Emma Thompson said of the upcoming interview:

“The team and I are delighted to get to the next phase of the application process – I welcome the rigour and challenge the Department are showing over our plans. The interview allows us to demonstrate how tightly we have worked with the community of Redbridge and organisations from the digital and inclusion sectors to create our vision for a much needed, high quality school for the borough.”

The TLAT will find out in March if they have passed the interview. If successful, the Thomas Lucas Academy will move into the pre-opening phase. In this phase the TLAT will work with the Department for Education to finalise a site for the new school and set about preparing for it to open in September 2019.

Read more about the school here

Ofsted Annual Report 2016 highlights digital skills shortage

On 1st December 2016, Ofsted released The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2015/16. You can read the full report here.

In the HMCI commentary, Sir Michael Wilshaw stated that, despite notable improvements in the past five years, in order for the education system to help the country become more “successful, cohesive and prosperous, we need:

  • high standards in education in every part of the country
  • technical and vocational education that equips young people to be competitive in the workforce
  • shared values that transcend community differences”

The report also referenced how the digital and creative sector, employing 2.1 million people in 2012, and worth around £134 billion gross value added in 2014, was facing a significant digital skills shortage. It emphasised the importance of digital skills to the economy and recognised that, although digital technology was pervasive across all aspects of life, there was a significant digital skills shortage. Deep concern was also expressed in recent sector reports about the capacity of the education system to supply the quantity and quality of workers needed for digital roles. This problem was also articulated by Businesses and local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) who identified digital skills shortages and stated that the increase in apprenticeships seen in recent years has not focused sufficiently on the sectors with skills shortages.

The proposal submitted to the DfE for the Thomas Lucas Academy in Redbridge shares the HMCI’s aspirations for the education system, placing emphasis on high standards, academic excellence and inclusion throughout every aspect of the school leading to shared values and community cohesion. It also understands the increasing problem of the digital skills gap outlined in the report and will pro-actively address this with its digital skills and technology specialist focus. By embedding advanced technology across every aspect of school life the Thomas Lucas Academy will prepare all students for a dynamic, digital-age future and careers. Read more about the school’s plans here.

See The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2015/16 online here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/574186/Ofsted_annual_report_education_and_skills_201516_web-ready.pdf

Government consultation: Schools that work for everyone

Do you want to have a say in how the Government provides more good school places for Redbridge’s children?

Now is the time. The Government is currently running a consultation, closing on the 12th December 2016, where you can take part and feedback on their proposals.

The public consultation is in to the Government’s ambition to create an education system that extends opportunity to everyone, not just the privileged few. The Department for Education has stated that it proposes to expand radically the number of good school places available to all families, by:

  1. Providing the right incentives for all schools with a strong track record and valuable expertise to expand their offer to even more pupils;
  2. Leveraging the expertise of high performing institutions to set up new good places in the state sector as well as turn around existing schools
  3. Delivering a diverse school system that provides all children, whatever their background, with schooling that will help them achieve their potential.

The consultation covers proposals in four key areas:

  • Independent schools directly assisting the state-funded sector, through creating more good places, and giving more choice and control for parents.
  • Universities playing a direct role in improving school quality and pupil attainment.
  • Selective schools providing more school places, and ensuring that they are open to children from all backgrounds.
  • Faith schools delivering more good school places, while meeting strengthened safeguards on inclusivity. We would like to hear your views on these proposals.

The issues in this consultation are critical for parents in Redbridge considering their children’s secondary school options. The basic need position in Redbridge is currently severe and is seen to be worsening for at least the next 6 years after a delegation from Redbridge Council attended a meeting with the Department for Education due to the Borough facing at that time (January 2016) a shortage of 6,500 school places by 2022, equivalent to 216 forms of entry.

The shortfall in basic need funding reflects the acute student place shortage position in Redbridge, and confirms that the establishment of the Thomas Lucas Academy secondary school in 2019 would help to address Redbridge’s student place problem at a critical time as part of much-needed new quality provision.

Take part in the Government consultation here and find out how the Thomas Lucas Academy Trust plan to meet the urgent need for pupil places in Redbridge in 2019 here.

Thomas Lucas Academy submits free school application to the Department for Education

On the 28th September 2016 the Thomas Lucas Academy Trust submitted its application to open a new secondary school and sixth form for Redbridge to the Department for Education.

The proposal group, including teachers, parents, education and technology experts and the charity the RLSB (Royal London Society for Blind People) have submitted an application for a new secondary free school and sixth form for 1140 pupils to open in 2019 following consultation with the local community.

This application represents many months of dedication and hard work. To complete the lengthy 100-page application form the Thomas Lucas Academy Trust had to write detailed education plans and budgets; explain why the school is needed by this community and demonstrate that it has local support.

If the application is approved, the next stage will be a rigorous interview with the Department for Education, after which they will hear whether their school has been given the green light to open.

Florence Orban of the Thomas Lucas Academy Trust said:
“We would like to thank the hundreds of local parents, businesses and community groups who have supported and helped shape our proposal for the Thomas Lucas Academy to best serve the children in Redbridge. We are excited to have submitted our application, and are keen to progress and develop our plans, pending Department for Education approval. We will continue our community outreach in the coming months, so that if successful we are in the best position possible to work with the whole community to set up the school.”

Thomas Lucas Academy was supported through the application process by national education charity New Schools Network.

Sarah Pearson, Interim Director of New Schools Network, said:

“The Thomas Lucas Academy Trust has worked tirelessly to prepare an application for the Department for Education and we hope they will have the chance to put their plans into action and see their vision of a fantastic new school realised.

“There are now more than 500 free schools open or approved to open across the country and the momentum of the programme continues to increase. These schools are proving popular with parents and are providing good new school places where they are needed.”

You can find out more about the school on the website here and you can also keep up to date with the progress of the Thomas Lucas Academy’s application by signing up to receive email updates here.

Update: On the 1st January 2017 the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) changed its name to the Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) read more here.

Visit the Thomas Lucas Academy stand at the Guide Dogs Training School 30th Anniversary Fun Day

Thomas Lucas Academy volunteers will have their own stand at this year’s Guide Dogs Training School 30th Anniversary Fun Day this Saturday 3rd September in Redbridge. Come on down to enjoy the day, and pop by to speak with our friendly team to find out more about the proposed secondary free school.

We will be spreading the word about the Thomas Lucas Academy and hoping to get local families, businesses and residents to pledge their support for our proposal to the Department for Education.

Group of TLA volunteers smilingDate: Saturday 3rd September
Time: 11am – 4pm (drop by the stand at any time)
Venue: The Guide Dogs Redbridge Training School, Manor Road, Woodford Green, IG8 8ER

Find out more about this event on the Guide Dogs Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1087538664620703/ 

Come to our Q&A drop-in session at Fullwell Cross Library on 12th July

Join us for our open Q&A event on Tuesday 12th July at Fullwell Cross Library to ask questions and hear more about the Thomas Lucas Academy (TLA), a new secondary school and sixth form proposed for Redbridge to open in September 2018. You can drop in any time between 4pm – 8pm in the Hainault Room.  

TLA will be a highly academic and inclusive secondary school and sixth form that plans to open with 180 Year 7 students in September 2018. This will grow to full capacity of 1,150 including a sixth form by 2025 to meet the growing demand for secondary school places in Redbridge.

All students will excel through a broad, balanced curriculum and a focus on advanced technology embedded across every aspect of school life to prepare them for a dynamic, digital-age future.   

The proposed free school will be state-funded by the Department for Education and operated by the Thomas Lucas Academy Trust, members of the Trust will be at the event to answer your questions.

Date: Tuesday 12th July
Time: 4pm – 8pm (drop in at any time)
Venue: Hainault Room at Fullwell Cross Library, 140 High Street, Ilford, IG6 2EA

Come to our Q&A drop-in session at Wanstead Library on 19th July

Join us for our open Q&A event on Tuesday 19th July at Wanstead Library to ask questions and hear more about the Thomas Lucas Academy (TLA), a new secondary school and sixth form proposed for Redbridge to open in September 2018. You can drop in any time between 3pm – 8pm in the Churchill Room.

TLA will be a highly academic and inclusive secondary school and sixth form that plans to open with 180 Year 7 students in September 2018. This will grow to full capacity of 1,150 including a sixth form by 2025 to meet the growing demand for secondary school places in Redbridge.

All students will excel through a broad, balanced curriculum and a focus on advanced technology embedded across every aspect of school life to prepare them for a dynamic, digital-age future.   

The proposed free school will be state-funded by the Department for Education and operated by the Thomas Lucas Academy Trust, members of the Trust will be at the event to answer your questions.

Date: Tuesday 19th July
Time: 3pm – 8pm (drop in at any time)
Venue: Churchill Room at Wanstead Library, Spratt Hall Road, Wanstead, E11 2RQA