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Treetops Free School was commissioned due to the current and predicted continuing high demand for places at Treetops School.
The Free School will replicate the provision on offer at the existing well-established Treetops School.
The new school will provide an additional 140 places for children between the ages 5-16. It is intended that we will build up to this capacity over a three-year period.
The vision and ethos will be the same as the existing Treetops with many staff working across both schools to ensure consistency and continuity for all pupils. Both schools will feed into Treetops Sixth Form.
The CEO of the Trust (currently Mr Smith) will oversee both schools.
Free School Update, March 2021
I have been waiting to write an update until I could bring some positive news and share actual photographic evidence of progress on site.
I am, however, having to be creative as the actual work on site at the moment is focussing on the construction of the Sports Hall and temporary classrooms to enable us to open this September.
The Sports Hall and classrooms have been jointly commissioned by Treetops and Thurrock LA working in partnership.
The Sports Hall will be a shared resource to be used by both the existing Treetops School and our new Free School. Initially, we will have to fit out the inside of the Sports Hall to accommodate four additional classes. This will give us a total of six classrooms to accommodate the first cohort of 60 pupils for the Free School. 40 of this cohort are or will shortly be on roll temporarily at Treetops School and will transfer across in September. A further 20 places will be allocated, hopefully, before the end of this term.
The DfE contract for the construction of the new school with NetZero has still not been finalised but they are confident this will be signed off by April when work will commence in earnest.
The completion date has been moved back (again) to April 2022. Once the building is handed over, the Sports Hall and attached accommodation will be converted back to their original intended use.
I can only apologise again that we haven’t made as much progress as we had hoped – believe me it has not been for want of trying!
Thank you for your continued patience and support.
Paul Smith, CEO
Picture 1: Ground cleared and footings in place for the Sports Hall. In the top of the picture you can see the slab for the temporary classrooms and the temporary classrooms on the playground which will be taken off site once this phase is completed.
Picture 2: Internal view of what the new Sports Hall will look like.
Free School Update, December 2020
Firstly, I am pleased to inform you that we have appointed the Headteacher Designate for our new Free School. The position was advertised nationally and we had a very strong field of applicants to choose from. Due to COVID and the associated issues of maintaining social distancing we had to restrict the number of staff and pupils involved in the process.
However, we feel the process was robust and fair and this was validated by the DfE last Friday, 11th December.
The successful applicant was Mr Anthony Hattam. He is currently Deputy Headteacher at The Endeavour School in Brentwood. He will take up post on Monday 12th April, which is the beginning of the term before the school is due to open.
This obviously leads me on to say that we are still planning to open in September 2021, albeit in temporary accommodation as previously mentioned.
People that have been on site recently will have noticed that work has still not begun but I have been assured (again) that work will start on site now at the start of the Spring Term.
As soon as we are back and work starts in earnest, I will take photos and endeavour to provide regular progress reports.
I sincerely hope everyone has the best Christmas they can have given the current restrictions.
Paul Smith, CEO
Free School Statutory Consultation, September 2020
Why are we consulting with you?
It is our intention to open Treetops Free School in the 2021 / 2022 academic year and your opinions count.
In December 2015, Treetops School was approached by the DfE to gauge our interest in opening and sponsoring a new special school. The application was completed and submitted in September 2016.
This application has the full support of our local authority, Thurrock.
As part of this planning process we have a legal obligation to consult interested parties on whether the Secretary of State should sign a funding agreement with Treetops Learning Community which will enable Treetops Free School to open.
The Funding Agreement is a contract that details key aspects of the Trust’s responsibilities and how the school must function, such as how it abides by the Admissions Code and SEN Code of Conduct. It also outlines the circumstances in which the Secretary of State can intervene should the school’s performance be considered unacceptable.
What you need to do
Please click on the links below to access the consultation document and the survey form where you can find how it is intended for the new school to work and complete the survey.
Consultation Survey for Treetops Free School – Online
Free School Update, September 2020
The last time I wrote an update, I started with an apology for the long delay and I am having to do the same again!
Government wheels continued to run slowly, so slowly in fact that in July I wrote to Baroness Berridge, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System, expressing my frustration and dissatisfaction with the whole process. This sparked some action and we finally signed the land contract on Monday 20th July!
Since that time, we have had two Client Engagement Meetings (CEMs) with the new contractors, DfE officers, architects and everyone involved with the project. There are some minor adjustments to the original plans but these are all associated with the aim to be a Zero Carbon Pathfinder School. I will send more information on this in my next update.
I have asked when work will actually start on site and was told that groundworks for the Sports Hall and temporary classrooms will commence mid to late October. Ground works for the Free School will commence at the start of December.
The opening date for the Free School, because of all these delays has been moved back a month to October 2021. This will not stop us opening to our first cohort, albeit in temporary accommodation, in September 2021 as mentioned in my last update.
Paul Smith, CEO
Free School Update, April 2020
Firstly I apologise for the long delay in updating information, the wheels of government run very slowly! We are also obviously all having to work within the constraints of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
However, I am really pleased to be able to inform you that the new contract has now been awarded to NetZero Buildings. The design and internal layout will remain the same so we will not have to go back through the planning application which caused frustrating delays earlier in the process.
I am really excited about working with this company because, as you might guess from their name, their aim is to design and build carbon neutral buildings that use renewable energies and are environmentally friendly.
We have already had a couple of meetings and I have been really impressed with their passion to get our school built to the highest standard possible in the shortest period possible.
They were really inspired by our school and will also try to build us a Sports Hall, to be shared by both schools, at cost!
We have been told the opening date for the Free School will now be September 2021.
I will endeavor to provide more regular updates as the project progresses.
Paul Smith, CEO
Free School Update, December 2019
Planning permission was granted by the local authority at the end of October. We then had to wait a further 21 days as the parcel of land allocated was technically green-belt (even though there was a big secondary school there before) as the decision could be “called in” by the Secretary of State. This time period passed without further complications.
We then found out at the end of November that the contractor (ISG) who had been commissioned by the Department for Education had lost the contract due to budgetary issues.
However, this may yet prove to be a blessing in disguise as a new framework comes into play this month which will result in a modular build approach. We have been told that this will make the build process much faster!
As you will see from the drawings, the new school has been designed to be very similar to the current Treetops.
There will be 4 corridors and you can walk round the school in almost exactly the same way as the existing school.
I will write another update in due course as soon as we know who the new contractor is and when we can expect actual ground work to begin on site.
Paul Smith, CEO
Artist Impression of the new Treetops Free School