NEW FREE SCHOOL IN CHALFONT ST PETER, GERRARDS CROSS

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Our New Free School Ethos and Mission

We seek to establish a new Free School to meet the substantial demonstrable needs of parents in Chalfont St Peter, Gerrards Cross and the surrounding area for a non-selective, co-educational secondary school with a Catholic ethos.

We will provide an “Outstanding” education for boys and girls from ages eleven to sixteen. Our curriculum will ensure that they receive a rounded and broad education that is centred on the core academic subjects of Maths, English, Science, Modern Languages and IT, as well as providing the best possible pastoral care for every child.

Our new Free School will endeavour to be a caring community and provide a Christian education with our Catholic ethos which has, as central to school life:

  • the worship of God, Gospel values, an awareness of other faiths and a sensitivity to others
  • values each person as an individual
  • enables each pupil to realise their full potential – spiritually, morally, academically, socially and physically
  • encourages each student to be independent and self-confident
  • welcomes pupils from every nation and culture, irrespective of religion and origin
  • works in partnership with students and parents to develop the God-given gifts of each individual
  • Empowers our students to become caring and confident citizens.

We aspire to

  • Develop children with active and creative minds, a sense of understanding and compassion for others, and the courage to act on their beliefs; within the traditions of the Catholic Church, whilst ensuring mutual respect for children of other faiths and no faith
  • Combine excellence in teaching and enjoyment in learning, through a broad and balanced curriculum that promotes the total development of each child: spiritual, intellectual, moral, social, emotional and physical
  • Provide a safe, calm and supportive environment based on trust and mutual respect, within a caring community that values the individual and welcomes everyone
  • Encourage children to fulfil their potential with confidence by setting high expectations of achievement and behaviour

Our vision has been developed through consultation with parents throughout the local areas and out ethos has been developed to address the stated needs of over three hundred and fifty parents. These parents come from all parts of the local community and it is their wish to educate their children in a secondary school that has a Catholic ethos and is within reasonable travelling time and distance from Chalfont St Peter.

  • Our research of the Secondary education of Catholic children in our area (Chalfont St Peter) shows that over 80% state that they are Catholic but only 12% continue their education at a Catholic Secondary School.
  • A survey of parents showed that the principle reason for this discontinuity is the distance travelled and the time taken for their children to carry on in catholic secondary education. At present for our local residents it would typically take one hour and fifteen minutes travel time to get their children to school which would involve two buses and a train..
  • The most significant challenges facing parents are the high cost and long time taken to transport children to schools that are some distance away. The cost to transport these children is currently approximately over £15 per pupil per day. There are no school bus facilities to the other local Catholic schools in Buckinghamshire from Chalfont St Peter/Gerrards Cross.
  • Buckinghamshire County Council recently announced substantial cuts in school bus funding, together with the suspension of some existing bus services. This has led to substantial increases in the costs to parents for existing services, and it has also been indicated that there is no chance of any new school bus services being established in the foreseeable future. Therefore in the next few years we feel it will be realistic to expect the number of pupils carrying on to catholic secondary education to significantly reduce in light of these factors.

Many parents cannot afford to send their children to these distant Catholic schools. Our surveys show irrefutably that the current system discriminates against them not only in terms of provision of Catholic education but on the grounds of cost.  This will directly impacts all children but especially those from homes of lower income and those that are unemployed and disadvantaged. There is currently no provision or allowance to cover any of the parents’ costs, unlike thousands of others in the County who are in existing schools that receive subsidised transport. 

Our New Free School will provide a viable option to address all of these issues and offer a Free School with an ethos and choice that is not currently available and that meets the stated requests of the parents in this community.

Key Features

We will provide an “Outstanding” education for boys and girls, initially from ages eleven to sixteen.  Our school will be located in or close to Chalfont St. Peter.

Our curriculum will ensure that each pupil receives a broad and balanced  education, centred on the core academic subjects of Mathematics, English,  Science, Modern Languages, History and Geography and Religious Education. Classics, Sport, technology, practical skills and cultural activities will also be taught so that the maximum opportunity is given to every boy and girl to fulfil his and her potential. This extensive framework will be embedded in a culture of high expectations of academic achievement; discipline will be firm yet fair, fully explained to pupils, and consistent in its application.

The PSHE syllabus will be reviewed regularly to encompass school and social issues relevant to the age range and will be a vehicle for learning about relationships and boundaries. 

The Tutor system will ensure personal, individual care; good communications between teachers. Recorded assessments through iSAMS or a similar programme, will track and monitor the progress of individual pupils, both academically and socially, as they move through the year and through the school. 

Because of our belief that each child is a unique expression of God’s love, our safeguarding measures and pastoral care will be exemplary. (“Every Child Matters” agenda)

Distinctive in Vision

Our new Free School will be a caring yet challenging community providing a rich education with a Catholic ethos which, as central to school life,

  • promotes the worship of God, Gospel values, an awareness of other faiths and a sensitivity to others
  • values each person as an individual
  • enables all pupils to realise their full potential – spiritually, morally, academically, socially and physically
  • encourages each student to be independent and self-confident
  • welcomes pupils from every nation and culture, irrespective of religion and origin
  • works in partnership with students and parents to develop the God-given gifts of each individual
  • empowers our students to become considerate and confident citizens.

We therefore aspire to

  • develop pupils with active and creative minds, with understanding and compassion for others, and the courage to act on their beliefs within the traditions of the Catholic Church, whilst ensuring mutual respect for children of other faiths and no faith.
  • combine excellence in teaching, enjoyment in learning and high achievement through perceptive staff appointments, good facilities and an adventurous curriculum.
  • support those pupils with special educational needs who have difficulties in accessing the standard curriculum so that they may acquire the skills and self-belief to gain qualifications and take their place in society.
  • provide a safe, calm and supportive environment based on trust and mutual respect.
  • encourage children to be the best they can be by setting high expectations of interaction and behaviour.
  • promote the Christian ideals of service and generosity of spirit so that our pupils, as adults, may embrace the role of responsible citizens and contribute to the common good.

Achievement of pupils

Having set out our aspiration to achieve excellence, how can this be measured in terms of actual results?

It is our realistic target to raise the performance of each pupil by at least .5 of one grade above the GCSE prediction of Midyis or another baseline assessment on entry at Year 7.  Continuous assessment, annual examinations, setting and reporting to parents, with whom we shall work closely, will ensure progress in line with these projected GCSE results as pupils move through the school.  

Chalfont St. Peter, Gerrards Cross, Chalfont St. Giles are all population centres with a high percentage of professional parents whose children are likely to be motivated and encouraged at home.  St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Chalfont St. Peter, sends a number of pupils to grammar school each year.  Chalfont Community College achieved 65% A*-C grades at GCSE (including English and Maths).  Given that class sizes will be smaller at the Free School and the school community will be closer knit, allowing closer scrutiny and supportive pastoral care, it would not be over-ambitious to aim for 80% A*-C grades at GCSE (including English and Maths).  These targets are both appropriate and desirable and provide a good foundation on which the school can build.

Our ethos at work in the curriculum

Our particular ethos demands a well-balanced menu of academic and physical, practical and cultural learning since we have been given a variety of gifts.  There will therefore be an emphasis on sport and healthy living, on art, drama and music so that pupils may discover and develop their talents, whatever they may be.  Extra-curricular activities will give further scope for the latent athlete or actor. Success will be celebrated and rewarded in whatever field it occurs. Those who do not shine academically will be applauded and encouraged for their own success; those who do will receive their accolades in due measure.  Latin and other classical subjects will be included in the timetable to offer challenge and interest.

Service to others will play a prominent part as an essential element of our ethos.  Our PSHE programme will teach attitudes of understanding and acceptance of those of other cultures, faiths and capabilities both physical and mental. The generosity of spirit, of which we spoke earlier, will grow through an awareness of the poverty and suffering of people in other countries – and our own – and a desire to alleviate their situation. Fundraising will be organised by the pupils  through acts of self-sacrifice or creative activity.  Support for CAFOD and other agencies or hospices or local good causes will be promoted.

Because we are a Catholic school, we shall invite and warmly welcome those who wish to join our community from different cultures and languages.  Lessons will be provided to help them to integrate into our school.  We welcome also those pupils with special educational needs who can, with the support of well-qualified staff, benefit from the education we offer.

The influence of our Catholic faith on the curriculum

Our faith finds expression in the ethos which permeates the fabric of a Catholic school.  This has been described in the previous paragraph.  The practice of our religious beliefs will be present in the prayers we say at morning assembly,in the hymns we sing.  Our Religious Education syllabus will teach the Catholic faith and study the Old and New Testaments, recognising feasts such as Christmas and Easter.  Mass will be celebrated to mark certain special days and sacramental preparation may take place.  During the seasons of Advent and Lent services may be held during breaks or at the end of school. 

Because excellence in performance characterises Catholic schools as they require all pupils to work to the best of their ability, the practice of the faith does not in general disrupt the curriculum but provides an incentive to attain the highest standards ‘to the greater glory of God’.

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