Open Day 25 April 2015

On Saturday, 25th April we hosted our second open day. The event was sponsored by Polish Village Bread who supplied us with delicious cakes, doughnuts, breads and many give-aways and promo products for this occasion.


Thank you very much for such generosity! Thank you Polish Delicatessen “Sówka” in Old Kent Road who donated canapes and drinks and the owner of Esthetique Hair and Beauty in Lewisham who funded raffle ticket prizes.

Special thanks to Lewisham Polish Centre in Forest Hill and Paweł Dokurno for lending us access to the premises 🙂 It is much appreciated.

Many thanks to all volunteers who worked tirelessly to make this event happen.

All parents present registered their interest to add to our exiting base, and bring us one step closer in our chances of success in application to the DfE in October 2015 and not in May as we originally planned. Our plans got delayed because we are urgently looking for an educational leader to complete our group. We need an individual who has experience as a head teacher or deputy head in  primary school to help us construct the educational plan for our school. Please forward this request to your friends or maybe even the Heads of your children’s schools. We were really pleased to see some familiar faces we met during our previous events. Your involvemenent and support is crucial in further development of this project.

Thank you all those parents who arrived and contributed to the lively conversation we had on different aspects of our school. Please find some answers to the questions you asked below:

1. Will there be a nursery provision? Generally groups are not be able to establish a stand-alone nursery free school because the independent school standards, which all free schools must meet, require that independent schools have at least five children over the age of five. However, free schools are able to offer nursery provision if they wish and the government is keen to encourage more schools to offer nursery provision, whether directly or in partnership with private or voluntary early years providers. At this stage the founders are not considering the bilingual nursery provision.

2. Will the school follow the same half-term dates as other schools? Yes, the school will follow the same half-term holiday dates as local schools.

3. How long will be a school day?  Free schools have a number of freedoms they can use, amongst them is the freedom to have an extended day. Over half of existing free schools run an extended school day. Following their example and in order to accomodate additional curriculum elements Joseph Conrad Academy will most likely run an extended day, too. (Probably an early start e.g. 8.30am.)

4. At  what age will the children start the school? The school will initially open from Reception (aged 5). If there is enough interest from pupils aged 6 and 7 (Year 1 and 2) the founders will consider furher intake providing that the DfE approves the project.

5. Who will teach our children? Joseph Conrad Academy as a free school will be funded by and accountable to directly the DfE. The teachers will have to hold a current QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) and will be subject to criminal checks (DBS). The candidates for the positions will have to go through the same recruitment process as every state school in the UK and follow the DfE’s regulations. As 70% of the curriculum will be delivered in English main ckass teachers will not be required to be bilingual speakers. However, for the purposes of the remaining 30% delivered in Polish, some teachers will be bilingual.

6. Will the school be subject to Ofsted inspections? Free schools will be subject to the same inspection arrangements as maintained schools.

We were able to listen to a very informative lecture on cognitive benefits of bilingual education in Polish context by Kasia Franas, an Oxford graduate in Applied Linguistics.

Well done to the winners of the drawing competition which took part during the Open Day:  Zuzia – aged 5, Karolinka – aged 4, Anna – aged 3 and Agatka- aged 6 and the raffle tickets winners who received vouchers to spend at a beauty salon funded by EsthetiQue Hair and Beauty Salon.

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Most children had an opportunityu to have their faces painted and nobody left empty-handed.

We are very grateful for the support we have received over the past months and now we would like to ask all of you dear Parents to become the Polish culture and language ambassadors in your communities. Our school will be open to everyone regardless of race, religion or the country of origin. Please encourage your friends, especially non-Polish speaking ones, to register their interest on our website and come to our events. We hope to create a multicultural community school where we will all share the same passion for excellence in education of our children, through giving them the gift of bilingualism and the enormous long-life benefits that go with it.

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NSN Getting started workshops

Today Maria Wiśniewska, Robert Sharples and myself took part in the NSN workshops in Pimlico.

The morning session evolved around rationale and educational vision, led by Stephen, a former headteacher and an NSN educational expert. We specifically discussed in detail the development of our rationale, as to why we are setting up this particular type of school in this place. We then moved onto the actual vision and school ethos, and discussed the aspirations for achievement. We also looked at examples of previous groups plans and talked in detail about the educational plan. We were really lucky to be in a small group, with one other project, so we were able to ask many questions relevant to our school and got expert answers from Stephen.

After a lovely, filling lunch , we joined the remaining projects for the presentation by Fred Burgess, who is actually our assigned consultant, on different ways to market our school and measuring parental demand. We picked up on loads of new ideas e.g. pop-up classrooms.

The venue was a fantastic experience for all of us and we are looking forward to working with Fred.



Last Wednesday our group was invited for an interview following our application for the NSN Development Programme. THe interview was successful and we have been accepted onto the programme!

We will be able to access the following services:

  • A named personal NSN Adviser who will work with us on the development of our application
  • Access to up to 6 hours of time with specialist advisers in education, operations, finance and governance, including former head teachers, school business managers, and specialists in Alternative Provision and SEN
  • A grant of up to £5,000 to help with marketing our school, gathering evidence of parental demand and travel costs
  • A personalised support plan to help us complete the application to a good standard
  • Full written feedback on drafts of our application as we develop it
  • A series of tailored workshops on completing a high quality application and opening a good school
  • A mock interview designed to replicate the interview we would have with the DfE if we were invited to one
  • Networking with other Free Schools.

This is a fantastic opportunity and a huge step forward for our project.


Our meeting with the UK Co-ordinator of the project “Language Impairment in a Multilingual Society: Linguistic Patterns and Road to Assessment”

Today we met with Joanna, a project Co-ordinator of “Language Impairment in a Multilingual Society: Linguistic Patterns and Road to Assessment” in the UK. The group conducted research on the linguistic and cognitive abilities of bilingual children with SLI across different migrant communities in the UK in co-operation with The University of Warsaw and Jagiellonian University in Cracow.

We discussed possible co-operation and sharing findings following our research.


Our first Open Day

Last Saturday, 17th January our first Open day at the Lewisham Polish Centre in Forest Hill took place. All participants had the opportunity to listen to a 40 minutes lecture by professor Fred Genesee, from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, one of the most respected and widely published experts in bilingual education in the world, the co-author of Educating English language learners: A synthesis of research evidence, Dual Language Development and Disorders: A Handbook on Bilingualism and Second Language Learning and also Trends in Bilingual Acquisition and Bilingual Education and also the author of numerous publications on second language immersion and bilingual education. Professor Genesee told us about bilingual education programs available in Canada and USA which are well established and successful. We learned that e.g. there are programs in primary schools where children receive 100% curriculum in French up until year 3 and from year 4 they switch to English. This does not affect their language skills in either language as they are able to transfer the skills gained in one language to the other without any loss. During discussion prof. Genesee answered parents’ questions and also showed support for our project and mentioned many important points which will be a great base for strengthening our rationale to support our application to the DfE in May.

The parents present registered their interest to show support for our project and to express their willingness to choose our school for their children.

Thank you all those who found time to come and meet us and we are looking forward to more Open Days in the future and to welcoming all of you.