We don’t get too many opportunities in our lives to feel we have made a really meaningful difference; a difference that will go on beyond our lifetime, to affect the lives of people who have not yet even been born yet. But it is my genuine hope that Monday 9th September 2013 turns out to be one of those days for me and my co-founders of the Archer Academy.
Today, the school that less than two years ago did not even exist even in our dreams, opened its doors to 150 eleven year old pupils that form our inaugural intake. It was the culmination of a huge adventure of the reluctant free-schoolers and, what I hope will be a defining moment in our community. East Finchley and the surrounding area have long suffered with a lack of comprehensive, non-denominational school provision and the Archer Academy set out to address that need. Today and for years to come, there is a place for our children to go to that we hope (and mean to make sure of!) will deliver the three pillars of our vision – realising potential, inspiring creativity and engaging with our community.
It’s been an amazing experience helping to set the school up – from agreeing to submit a proposal, to going through the application process, right through the set-up phase to the day of opening. I’ve formed what I know will be lifelong friendships and connections within my community, I’ve laughed so hard I’ve had tears in my eyes and pain in my stomach. I’ve pushed my family to the limits with late nights, weekends and constant distraction of things to do. In fact I doubt the school could have been established without considerable understanding of my co-founders’ families – the unsung heroes of our adventure. I’ve assembled unicycles, learnt more about education than I ever did at school, defended free schools (or at least our version of them) and administered admissions for an entire year. I learnt a great deal, I had fun and I worked damn hard…harder than I have ever had to work before and today made it all worth it.We have now handed over the responsibility for running the school to our fantastic headteacher and his outstanding team of teachers and support staff and we will revert to a more usual strategic role of a governor providing a blend of support and challenge. And of course, it’s all very well setting up a school, but now we need to ensure that it lives up to our high expectations.
In 100 years’ time myself and the other founders will be long gone and forgotten, but I hope that the Archer Academy will still be serving the children, parents and the community of East Finchley and the surrounding area. I hope that those responsible for the school continue to ask themselves the question that has guided our journey in establishing the Archer Academy – ‘Just how good can our school be?’
But today, I’m just going to sit back, feel proud and enjoy the sense of achievement.
PS please forgive the somewhat self-indulgent and sentimental nature of this post…it’s not every day you open a school!