Yesterday we had our first official meeting with the Department for Education (DfE) after the announcement that The Archer Academy had been approved to open. It was a chance to meet the key personnel (of which there are quite a few) who will be supporting us in the pre-opening phase. These include a project manager, policy lead, premises advisors and educational advisor. They will also help us tap in to a whole host of other experts and advisors within the Department and the Education Funding Agency (EFA). That might sound like a lot of people and support, but by the sounds of it, we’re going to need all the support we can muster. If you thought preparing the application was a lot of work, we were told, then wait till you see the work needing to be done now. That may be slightly daunting (I’ve barely recovered from the application process!) but we are also confident as we have a wonderful team and loads of people who want to help make The Archer Academy a reality.
And it is a reality. Right now. The DfE approval means we are no longer talking about our dream of opening a new school. We are now in the process of delivering its establishment. That’s a significant shift, in reality and of mindset, and it’s something we have to quickly get our heads round.
We were given some feedback on our application and I was pleased, not to say relieved, to hear that our overall ‘score’ went up after the interview (some go down!) and that they thought our proposal was very strong. Unsurprisingly (but thankfully) our passion and commitment showed through in person and on paper. ‘We thought you were amazing’ said one person who had been on our interview panel. Phew and Yay! 🙂
There is lots to do, but we are pretty clear what needs to happen – particularly after a weekend of training with the DfE and New Schools Network that some of the group attended – and are already cracking on with things.
One piece of advice we received from the Department was to hold on to the feeling we got on Friday 13th July when the school was approved. ‘You’ll need to remember that feeling when things are tough’. I will never forget that day and the wave of emotion that swept through the playground as news of our approval was received. I’ve no doubt there will be tough times ahead, but right now, I’m too busy to worry about that.