What is a free school?
Free schools are funded by the government but are not run by the local council. Like academies, they have more control over how they do things. They are ‘all-ability’ schools, so cannot use academic selection processes like grammar schools. Free schools are run on a not-for-profit basis and can be set up by groups such as charities, universities, independent schools, community and faith groups, teachers, parents and businesses.
Do we pay for our child to attend the Free School?
No, Castle Mead Academy is a government funded school, just like all other state-funded schools.
Why does Leicester need more schools?
Leicester has a rising secondary pupil population and will need a projected additional 6000 secondary places by 2021/22. Expansion of existing secondary schools will provide some of these places but the Local Authority forecasts that the city will need at least two new schools. The Local Authority is no longer able to open new schools themselves but other groups can apply to open free schools where there is a need for them.
Why base Castle Mead Academy on Rushey Mead Academy?
Castle Mead Academy will be based on the model of Rushey Mead Academy, the highly successful 11 to 16 Leicester academy with a strong track record in leadership, teaching and delivering outstanding outcomes for pupils. The Academy has experience of working with other schools to support significant improvements. Colleagues at Rushey Mead Academy will have the opportunity to support Castle Mead Academy by working there full or part time or by mentoring free school staff.
Will Castle Mead Academy be a duplicate of Rushey Mead Academy?
Castle Mead Academy will provide an excellent education for students, as is seen at Rushey Mead Academy. However, the vision is for Castle Mead to surpass Rushey Mead, taking on much of the outstanding practice from Rushey Mead and supplementing it further.
Will Castle Mead Academy be selective in its admissions?
No, we are dedicated to providing outstanding education to all students from all backgrounds and all abilities, whether in our existing academies or at Castle Mead Academy. Click here for more information about the Academy's admissions.
How can I apply for a place?
Full details of the admissions procedure can be found by clicking here.
How many student places are available?
There are 240 student places in Year 7. As such the academy will grow to 1200 when at capacity. The first intake of students have the unique opportunity to be the founding year group of the new school.
What happens if the school becomes oversubscribed?
Castle Mead Academy cannot grow over the 1200 student capacity, as the accommodation will not allow it. There are likely to be more Free Schools opening to address this need. Leicester and Leicestershire are target areas for the government and the trust has already been approached to consider opening another free school in the future.
Why are you proposing to open with only Year 7 classes?
Our proposed intake reflects the pre-opening requirement set by the Department for Education (DfE). When starting a new school, we believe that it is really important to nurture the first year and establish the culture of the new school. Our first Year 7 classes will also be our first classes to take GCSEs and we will be able to work with them exclusively for their first year to establish solid foundations for their success.
Where will Castle Mead Academy be situated?
We will open on the current Kirby and West site, which is situated in the heart of historic Leicester.
Where is the catchment area?
The whole of the city is the defined catchment area. The Admissions policy is on the academy’s website and has been approved by the Local Authority as well as complying with DfE guidelines.
Regarding the temporary site, what sort of buildings will they be? Will they be built and then knocked down?
They are of very good quality, pre-fab style building. Similar buildings are available to see in situ at Rushey Mead Academy. They will be in place for April 2019 (in plenty of time for the school opening) and removed after two years once the permanent site is completed.
Will Castle Mead Academy be inspected by Ofsted?
Yes. Castle Mead Academy will be subject to inspection in the same way as other maintained schools and academies.
How will the school be accountable?
The school will be run by a dual Local Governing Body accountable to Rushey Mead Educational Trust (RMET). The dual Local Governing Body oversee both Castle Mead Academy and Rushey Mead Academy. In addition, the school will be accountable to the Department for Education through the terms of its Supplementary Funding Agreement.
What is EBacc?
EBacc is short for ‘English Baccalaureate’, which is where students study English, Mathematics, Science, Humanities and a Language. At Castle Mead Academy, the focus of the school will be on students achieving the EBacc. Therefore, this will include all students studying at least one modern foreign language.
What about the performing and creative arts?
Performing and creative arts will have a place on the curriculum at Castle Mead, in both the temporary and permanent site. At Rushey Mead Academy for example, Music has been a particular success following the introduction of scholarships which enables students to be provided with an instrument and tuition - there is now also a sixty student strong orchestra!
How will you deliver sports whilst in temporary accommodation?
We accept that this is a challenge but are considering creative options and building partnerships with organisations that can support us to provide high quality PE and sport. Potential partners include the universities and the use of local public community areas. Many schools face this challenge and provide excellent sports curriculum and we are currently planning visits to other schools, to ensure Castle Mead will provide a good sports education from the outset.
How many teachers will there be?
From a mock timetable that has been designed, we know the numbers of teachers required and in the early years there will be some staff shared across the two sites to ensure the high standards and quality teaching and learning recognised at Rushey Mead Academy. Teachers will be a constant at Castle Mead in key subject areas. The trust has plans mapped out for the next five years and the recruitment of high quality teaching staff is supported by the Teaching School and SCITT (School Centered Initial Teacher Training).
How will the school benefit the local community? Especially with the dynamic of having a city-wide catchment?
We are keen to take feedback on this, and it has formed part of our previous consultation. We would like to provide the buildings and facilities as a productive community resource. This is a dynamic project, our mission is that we are ‘Growing a Community of Excellence’ and in doing so we want to engage positively with our local community.
In terms of the day-to-day impact on the local community, considerations include ensuring that students will not be allowed offsite at any time during the school day. We are also considering a Travel Plan that will look at the best timings for the school day, linked into public transport and bus routes. The finish time of the school day is likely to be 3.40pm, so it is before the city rush-hour so as to ease any potential congestion
What are the times of the school day?
Castle Mead has a slightly extended school day. This means that pupils benefit from extra lesson time and time for enrichment activities each week.
Registration begins at 8.30am each day, and pupils finish school at 3.40pm. The exception is on a Friday afternoon, where pupils finish at 2.10pm.
Will there be a breakfast club for pupils?
Pupils are welcome to arrive before 8.30am to buy breakfast if they choose to, or just to get themselves organised for the day ahead.
Will there be a SENCO at Castle Mead?
Yes, we will be appointing a SENCO in our next phase of recruitment. The SENCO will then be in place to ensure pupils have a smooth transition from primary school to Castle Mead.
Will there be a prayer room at Castle Mead?
There is not a separate prayer room at Castle Mead, however one of our Curriculum Leaders has experience of leading weekly prayers with pupils as necessary. This is the current practice at Rushey Mead Academy also.
When will parents and pupils be able see the site?
Parents and pupils will be invited for a tour of the site and the school buildings in advance of the school opening. This is planned for August, and parents and pupils
will be invited in due course.