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The Charter School

East Dulwich

Blog 

Our Deputy Headteacher with a word about reading 

4 January 2016

I can’t wait to join TCSED and to meet our founding cohort of students. As an English teacher, part of my excitement is being able to establish, from scratch, a rich and challenging English curriculum that will enable all students to build on their Literacy skills and progress towards outstanding GCSE results. But, even more than that, I am excited to be able to establish a whole-school curriculum that develops a life-long love of reading, so that success in all they aspire to do becomes not just an aspiration but an inevitability.

Creating a reading culture at TCSED is paramount to our students’ chances of success. Children who enjoy reading make more progress over time than those who do not. Interestingly, they don’t only do better in English – students who read for pleasure also make significantly more progress in maths, confirming how fundamentally important reading is to the outcomes of students.

In a brand new school, we find ourselves in the fortunate position of being able to establish a reading culture right from the very beginning. All staff, from all subjects, will be expected to encourage this love of reading and partake in frequent DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time – where activities in the classroom pause for 20 minutes so that students AND staff can enjoy reading their current book.

Boys, in particular, will be encouraged to read through the Accelerated Reader programme, which uses elements of competition and quizzes, leading to rewards and prizes, to stimulate their engagement. This not only increases the amount of time boys spend reading but also improves their overall literacy and ability to read for meaning.

We will use our links with The Charter School North Dulwich’s outstanding Librarian, to facilitate author visits and workshops for students. Already at The Charter School North Dulwich, students are fortunate to have met and worked with the likes of Sebastian Faulks, Lionel Shriver, Polly Ho-Yen, Bali Rai, Maria Snyder and James Dawson. At TCSED, we will aim to maintain these links and, working with the Librarian at North Dulwich, ensure that our students also benefit from these exciting and inspiring opportunities.

A rich and varied library is essential. We are fortunate that now, with our new temporary site on Southampton Way, students will benefit from being able to use the existing library space. The space in itself is inspiring – with huge, arched windows providing generous light and outstanding views over the City of London. Coupled with a reading list founded on texts exploring London itself, along with a broad range of literature from other cultures, students will be encouraged to use the Library to regularly engage with texts that have real meaning to them both as individuals and as part of our wider community.

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by Rebecca Hardy, Deputy Headteacher


Space to learn 

4 December 2015

They say that space is the ultimate luxury. So it is proving in the establishment of our new school.

Earlier this week, we were pleased to announce that the Education Funding Agency (EFA), working in partnership with Southwark Council, had found for us a new temporary school site. Thanks to their efforts, we will be opening next September in the Silverthorne Building, a fit-for-purpose campus on Southampton Way.

This marks a significant shift in our plans. Until barely three weeks ago, we were in the advanced stages of planning for a temporary school on the Dulwich Community Hospital site. We had drawn up architects’ plans, some of them quite detailed. We had begun a planning application. We had even discussed preferred suppliers for our temporary buildings.

So why the change? The narrative answer is simple. We had identified the Silverthorne Building as a potential temporary site in May. At that point, Lewisham and Southwark College had just announced its intention to vacate the site. We were told, quite correctly, that the site had quickly been acquired for re-development. The acquirer was the EFA, which recently asked Southwark Council to find a temporary occupant. The council thought of us—for which we are very grateful.

For me, the philosophical answer is pretty simple, too, and takes us back to the issue of space. Space, in teaching terms, is not simply about wellbeing and other ‘soft’ considerations – although the wellbeing of our students would be reason enough to make a change like this.

Space is also critically linked to strategies for learning and teaching: more space, more classrooms, means we can run more classes, each with fewer students. Smaller classes mean each student receives more attention from their teacher, which is better for building the relationships that underpin learning. That, in turn, means students are likely to feel more supported, enjoy their lessons more and, not coincidently, do better in them.

This is not even to address the question of outdoor space. Even in the midst of winter, it is easy to think of the many benefits of having more space outdoors in which children can play when the sun is a little brighter and the days a little warmer. I’m sure we will come back to this topic in our first meeting for applicants on December 10th.

A couple of caveats. We will not occupy the entire Southampton Way campus. Southwark Council have been generous and proactive in finding us our new temporary home, but the council and the EFA have a responsibility to develop the site for a future, permanent tenant. We will be comfortably accommodated in about half the site, including dining, assembly and library facilities, along with better classroom spaces to those we would have had in a temporary building.

Finally, we cannot, sadly, increase the number of students we accept. This is not simply a question of statutory responsibility: our change of location doesn’t change our staffing level and while this will support an additional teaching group, it won’t support any more.

We hope applicants and their families will understand the reasons for our change in strategy and see why we’re so excited about our new temporary home.

By Alex Crossman, Headteacher


May I introduce, our Deputy Headteacher

5 November 2015

These have been an exciting few weeks for The Charter School East Dulwich. We have been humbled by the sheer number of local families interested in becoming part of our founding generation. Applications for Year 7 places starting next September have been exceptionally strong. We look forward to making formal offers in the New Year.

We have also made great strides in securing our permanent home on the site of the Dulwich Community Hospital. Again, our local community provided enormous support through the consultation we ran ahead of making a formal planning application to build our temporary school buildings. Our vice chair of governors and premises lead John Godfrey will continue to update you on how that process is progressing.  

But great schools need more than just great buildings. That's why we are particularly pleased this week to welcome our second member of staff to TCSED. Rebecca Hardy will join our school as Deputy Headteacher in April 2016. 

Rebecca is an outstanding classroom teacher and pastoral leader. Over the past nine years at our sibling school in North Dulwich, she has been a subject leader for English, a head of Communications Faculty, responsible for overseeing not just the teaching of English but modern foreign languages teaching and media studies; most recently she has made a huge impact as head of Key Stage 3, with overall pastoral responsibility for students in Years 7 to 9. In common with all of the founders of TCSED, she is also a local parent.

We were pleased to receive extremely strong interest in the role of Deputy Headteacher through our national recruitment campaign. Rebecca's success in securing the role is testament to her exceptional qualities, but also validation of the deep bench of talent that we have in The Charter Schools family. I look forward to working with Rebecca in delivering the best possible educational experience for the young people of East Dulwich and South Camberwell.

By Alex Crossman, Headteacher


Arrived at base camp                                                      

23 October 2015

We are embarked on a remarkable journey. With the exchange of land for the site of our new school we’ve arrived at base camp. As a team we are thoroughly excited to be setting off on the next phase as ‘masters of our own destiny’. It certainly feels different and very energising to be in this position, with our site secured.

My role at the new school is Vice Chair of Governors and I hold the responsibility of overseeing the ‘premises’ project work. This means the delivery of the buildings, site and environment that gives teachers, Trust, Governors, the DfE and, most importantly, you - our founding parents and students - a world-class learning environment. I am a volunteer with experience of long, complex project delivery and I have a deep interest in delivering excellent education for all in our community.

I thought it worth jotting down some of our expectations as the programme of work unfolds over the coming years and consider the impacts on your children, particularly the founding cohort.

Over the next few weeks you will see hoardings go up around the two parcels of land we have taken possession of. These are in the north east running along the ‘rear’ of the site, from Jarvis road, and the western end where the derelict housing blocks are currently. In November we will go through a planning approval process for our temporary school, to be sited (ideally) in the north east corner by Jarvis Road.

Subject to planning approval, we will be developing a small, but perfectly formed, new school, housed in temporary buildings for the first two years. The Education Funding Agency (EFA) provide the money for the development of the school and set the specifications for the temporary accommodation. While our first 120 students are housed in temporary buildings, construction will start on a large state-of-the-art teaching facility and sports complex elsewhere on the site.

The teaching facility will be multi-story and incorporate all the specialist teaching rooms we will require, including science and art, ready for occupancy in our third year of operation. This building will provide over 65% of the total teaching space required for the whole school. Coupled with the sports and drama facilities it means we will have everything we need for a rich learning environment as the remaining parts of the site are completed. Every student will have a fully rounded curriculum delivered on the school site as they move through their schooling. 

Alex Crossman and I are exploring the many ways we can take full advantage of the design and build process to weave varied, engaging elements into every student’s experience of founding our school.

It was wonderful to hear the news last week that another south London school, Burntwood School, won the Stirling Prize for architecture in this year's awards: www.Architecture.com/StirlingPrize/Awards2015.aspx. This has invigorated everyone involved in our project to strive for an excellent campus site. We are working incredibly closely with the EFA and Southwark Council to deliver a brand new community asset for future generations. Alex and I will be visiting Burntwood, among many other top quality examples, over the coming months.

Please keep an eye out on our web site and through our community consultations for more detailed information and opportunities to engage, as we move through the design process. We are very keen to involve parents, community members and students in every aspect of our plans. You can reach me directly at jgodfrey@chartereastdulwich.org.uk.

by John Godfrey, Vice Chair of Governors


Our site – one big step closer to opening

8 October 2015

The Charter School East Dulwich has taken a big step closer to opening. We have exchanged contracts with the NHS for the whole of the Dulwich Community Hospital site - except the part being retained for the new NHS health centre. We have also completed on the first two parcels of land – the cleared land to the North East of the site by Jarvis Road and the buildings known as the cottages in the South West of the site. If you are walking past the site, you should see hoardings and signs with our logo going up within a few weeks.

This is a huge step forward. We have been in constant dialogue and negotiation with the NHS regarding the acquisition of the hospital site since the Department for Education authorized us to open a free school. Many local parents have understandably been concerned that delays with the site acquisition could set back the school opening date. Well, finally we have a deal. Finally, that risk is behind us.

We now own the land on which we will build two thirds of the classroom space, our sports halls, cafeteria and most of our specialist facilities including science labs, food tech, music and design and technology rooms. We also own the land on which we will build our temporary home.

For now, the main hospital buildings remain in NHS ownership, pending the opening of their new health centre. We have designed the school buildings so that we do not need this last parcel of land to run a fully functioning school until we are near full capacity across all year groups. We are now masters of our own destiny.  We can get on and build our school.

You can take a look at our emerging plans for the school buildings and site here and many people came along to our consultation event last night where we were happy to talk through them and get views from the local community. If you missed that, we’re holding a second event this coming Saturday – you can find details here.

Our Design Users Group has been working hard to develop a plan that gets the most from the site, allows us to also have our temporary site whilst we construct permanent buildings and fits into the local environment. It’s chaired by Vice-Chair of Governors John Godfrey who is leading on everything to do with the site and who will be writing the next blog post.

by Simon Tucker, Chair of Governors