Q. What is a Free School?

A. Free Schools are all-ability state-funded schools set up in response to what local people want and need in order to improve education for children in their community. Free Schools will normally be either brand-new schools set up in areas where there is a demand locally, or existing independent schools converting to join the state-funded sector. They are made possible through the Academies Act.

Q. What is the difference between a Free School and an Academy?

A. Free Schools will normally be either brand-new schools set up in areas where there is a demand locally, or existing independent schools converting to join the state-funded sector. An Academy is usually a maintained school which is either high performing and wishing to have greater autonomy through converting to an Academy ‘converter’ or a maintained school which is not performing well, which will be ‘sponsored’ by another school or organisation to improve its performance. Both Academies and Free Schools are funded by the Education Funding Agency and beyond the control of the Local Authority.

Q. What will be different about children’s experiences at the Compass Free School compared to another school?

A.  The Compass School will provide a grounding in the basics – reading, writing and numeracy. To this we add a fourth “R” – relating. As well as providing an education that matches the needs of every child – whether they are academically gifted or find school difficult – we are committed to ensuring that every pupil develops a wider appreciation of how to relate to the world around them. We will do this both during traditional school time and through extra-curricular activities and by linking up with local businesses and community groups.

We are also committed to ensuring that the Compass School is a genuinely local school for local families. This is reflected in our admissions policy which emphasises geographical proximity to the school.

Q. Why do we need another secondary school?

A. There is a clear shortage of secondary school places in Southwark. This means that many children have to travel outside of the borough to attend school, some travelling considerable distances. The Borough Council also recognises that there are a shortage of places and a growing population.

Q. What are your admission arrangements?

A.  Our school is a genuinely local school that will serve local families. This is reflected in our admissions arrangements. If the school is oversubscribed, after pupils with Statements of Special Needs, we will give priority to:

  • Looked after children;
  • Siblings;
  • Pupil Premium; and
  • Those who live closest to the school.

Q. How many school places are there?

A. Compass School has up to 100 pupils per year group, in four forms of 25 pupils. We started our first year with an intake of Year 7s and each year after will add a new year group, including a new sixth form.

Q. Does Compass admit students with a statement of educational needs?

A. Yes, Compass is inclusive and our statutory responsibilities are set out in our Funding Agreement, which is a public document.

Q. What are the term dates and school day hours?

A. The school day runs from 8.00am – 5.00pm every week day, with core teaching and learning (including enrichment) taking place between 9.00am and 4.30pm, bar Fridays, where lessons will conclude at lunchtime to allow for dedicated staff planning time.

We recognise this is a longer than normal school day, but there is a heavy emphasis on additional support for literacy and numeracy and enriching extra-curricular activities that enable children to explore their own potential.

The year and terms will follow the model of the local authority’s community schools. However, CST we will seek to offer support and opportunities for our students during holiday times, particularly so to ensure that the most vulnerable are not set adrift.

Q. Will Compass School be inspected by Ofsted?

A. Yes, all Academies and Free Schools are inspected by Ofsted using the same framework as for maintained schools. A full inspection is carried out within 5 or 6 terms of opening.

Q. Do you receive more money than other local state schools?

A. Academies and Free Schools receive the same level of per-pupil funding as they would receive from the local authority as a maintained school plus additions to cover the services that are not provided for them by the local authority.

The Government is clear that becoming a Free School should not bring about a financial advantage or disadvantage to a school. However, Academies and Free Schools have greater freedom on how they use their budgets, alongside the other freedoms that they enjoy.

Q. Who is on the Governing Body?

A. The Governing Body is made up of the Trustees of the Compass Schools Trust.