Wednesday, 1 September 2010


The new signboard up on Settle Road in front of South Building 
A target set just over two years ago has now been achieved: Drapers' Academy is open.  There was the last minute flurry to get documents signed off, an inevitable outcome with the number of parties and lawyers involved, but also a reflection of the last minute hitches that resulted from a month's delay caused by Michael Gove's academies review.  But last night, around 7pm, everything was in place.

The Academy pupils will not arrive until next week.  Matthew Slater, who can now call himself Principal for the first time today, is in the interim holding a series of 'inset' days with the Academy team to prepare for what is going to be a series of major changes.

Although we are pleased that a large number of the former King's Wood staff are transferring across, there will be a number of new faces at the Academy today including quite sizeable contingents of new teachers from Canada and Eire.  All this means a lot of organisational and timetable change.

There is also a lot to do to prepare for the new-build.  We are now totally confident that the contract will be signed off this month.  This will require the closure of the King's Wood North Building at half-term so that it can be demolished to make way for the new buildings.  Also the slightly delayed temporary accommodation programme, that will provide new science teaching and girls' changing facilities, will now have to be delivered and fitted out during termtime. 

We are delighted that King's Wood closed with a great set of GCSE results.  65% of the 106 pupils who sat the exam got at least five passes A* to C and 42% achieved the same number of passes but included English and Maths.  This was the best result ever and a huge jump from the previous year.  Not only does it reflect very well on the King's Wood team but also provides a sound basis for our ambition to raise standards significantly over the next few years.

On the new build the final planning hurdles were cleared on 26 August.  There was unanimous agreement by the Planning Committee that we could go ahead and all the hard work and preparation of the past eighteen months finally paid off.  Nearly everything is now in place for Partnership for Schools to agree that the contract should be signed before the end of the month.  Work on site will start after half-term.

Finally, the shop at 67 Farnham Road in the Harold Hill shopping centre closed yesterday.  It served its purpose well and for a few, key months became the focus of Academy activity on the 'Hill.'  I shall miss the opportunity to pay the occasional visit to Percy Ingle's cafe next door.   

The months of planning are now over.  The first chapter of the Academy, that started in June 2008 when we first saw the site, is now complete.   It has been a fascinating journey where we have learnt a great deal.  What is particularly important is that our initial belief that we had found the right place for both sponsors to make a real and succesful contribution has been continuously reinforced as we have got to know the community, children, the London Borough of Havering and the staff of King's Wood School better.


  1. Terrific achievement Master and your whole team

  2. Herry

    Thanx. Am just putting together the post for the opening parties on 7 September - getting the photos right a bit of a problem! A really great day where the huge enthusiasm of all who came is a marvellous start.