Will my child need to have a particular interest in the school's specialisms? What if they prefer other subjects?
All of our local schools have specialisms. Ours are Science & Engineering and Music.
However Turing House has a broad and balanced curriculum. All interests are catered for, just as they are in other local community secondary schools, which each have their own specialism. Specialisms do add an extra dimension for children who have those interests, though all children benefit from generic "life" skills associated with the chosen subjects, such as critical thinking.
Are classes streamed or set by attainment?
We don't use streaming, which involves separating children into a fixed group for all of their lessons. Instead we use setting to focus the learning in core subjects, including English, maths, science and languages.
Tutor groups, which reflect the full breadth and diversity of the year group, are the basis for non-core subjects such as PE, Art, Drama, Music and Design & Technology.
This mixed use of strategic setting by attainment and tutor groups helps to maintain and develop friendships and cooperative working. It is used in most of our local secondary schools, and some primaries.
How will you be able to help pupils if they are academically underachieving?
The Turing House curriculum will meet the needs of the full range of our students. Students who have made less progress than their peers on transfer from Year 6 are given additional intensive support, including reading recovery, from the start of Year 7 to maximise their subsequent access to the secondary curriculum. We support them to make outstanding progress and anticipate that a high proportion of students entering our school with prior attainment below national expectations will be able to achieve the English Baccalaureate.
For the minority of students where an English Baccalaureate or equivalent pathway is an unrealistic aspiration we will provide an alternative range of courses and options so that all can achieve success at Level 2 (GCSE), either at the end of Year 11 or by the end of Year 12. Our range of qualifications will enable every student to gain a sense of self-worth and achievement.
What is your staffing profile, and how will it evolve?
In order to ensure full curriculum coverage our early year-groups have a slightly higher teacher-pupil ratio than the final operating level, with the costs for that being covered by the start-up funding model for new schools. The selection process looks at the team as a whole and how the expertise of our teachers fits together rather than assuming a fixed staffing model. Teachers' subsidiary subjects are taken into account as part of that process, to create the strongest possible team. This approach has been used very effectively in RET’s other Free Schools.
The staffing profile (teaching and non-teaching) will gradually evolve over the first few years as the school grows. Responsibility posts will be filled from a combination of internal and external appointments to ensure both a continuity of experience and school development, as well as taking advantage of a continued influx of new talent and experience.
What do you expect the school's gender balance to be?
The very popular Waldegrave Girls' School in Twickenham skews the gender balance of other local secondaries. The 2013 school census data gives the following percentages of boys; Orleans Park 61%, Teddington 61%, Hampton Academy 52%, Twickenham Academy 57%.
Adding a new co-ed school into the mix should dilute the extent to which each individual school is affected.
Although our Admissions Point may attract a proportionally higher number of boys from Waldegrave's catchment area, as we become more established we expect the ratio of girls to boys to become more balanced. Given the choice we know that some girls prefer mixed schools, and many families who have both boys and girls prefer them to attend the same school.
Part of the rationale for our Admissions point is that it will help to balance what is known locally as the 'Waldegrave Effect'.
Does the school have a library?
Yes. Thanks to the generosity of our founding parents, and other benefactors (Penguin Random House and Waterstones), we aready have a large collection of books for the students to borrow. As the school grows we envisage equipping a Learning Resource Centre with Books, Magazines, Newspapers, and ICT to encourage independent learning. Resources will include curriculum related material, as well as wider reading for interest, and fiction.
This approach has worked well in RET's established schools where students have had input into the books and resources they would like to have access to.