We are sorry to announce that our application to open a new, much needed secondary school in Oxford has been rejected by the Department of Education.
It seems that our bid was considered to be strong by the DfE and other experts, so we are still struggling to understand why we were turned down. A more detailed analysis will follow on the on this website but we feel that this was the wrong decision, and that the reasons given insufficiently clear or strong.
We are very proud that the DfE said:
"Your application’s vision and moral purpose to provide a small, secular school that will improve the outcomes and destinations for students, particularly those from a disadvantaged background, is strong."
The clarity of our vision was, in large part, thanks to the parents and local organisations who urged us on! We wanted to say "Thank You" to all of those who gave their support. Thank you for believing in the idea of a small, progressive secondary school for Oxford.
Of course, as a team, we are personally gutted by this decision. But we are mostly disappointed that a much needed new school will not now be opened in time for the bulge in pupil numbers to hit the local schools. There was a chance to answer a basic need, do things differently, and improve this outcomes of young people in the city.
We can say that we did this project with integrity, stayed true to our values and the principles of social justice, did not resort to negative campaigning and engaged as positively as we could with even our fiercest detractors.
Like many of you, we are busy parents, on modest incomes and busy working lives. We had no sponsors or financial backers. We did this for the right reasons and in the right way. This is some consolation.
As things stand, we do not have the resources to try to apply in the free school process again next year. We have learned an enormous amount and intend to share as much of this as possible. If we can find other ways to turn our hard work into something positive, we will; and are open to hearing your ideas.
If you’d like to keep in touch with our team or find out more detail about our project, as we publish summaries from our 'retrospectives' to share our learning, please keep an eye on the website www.onschool.org.uk