Cobham Free School junior school (primary) opened in September 2012 with a one-form entry infant department (reception to Year 2) as part of wave 2 of the government's free school programme. It has expanded upwards to reach capacity in 2015/16, with a full primary cohort of reception to Year 6 pupils.
The huge demand for secondary places locally and requests for senior/sixth form departments from the existing primary parent group, led to an application for an 11-18 school being submitted in January 2013. The bid was successful and approval was given for our senior/sixth form to open in September 2014. In order to offer our existing parents continuation of the high quality provision available in the junior school, it was decided by the Cobham Free School Trust to merge the departments and create an all-through school.
The academic year 2020 - 21 was a challenging time for the school as the nation faced unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Planning permission was granted to convert Munro House into a school in February 2020, just weeks before the first national lockdown, and the decision made to press ahead with construction works and the decant of the Hurst Park site. The contractors worked with tremendous commitment through difficult times and completed the conversion works of the existing building in time for students to enter their new premises on 14 September 2020, having experienced months of online learning at home.
Pupils were taught onsite in 'bubbles' with COVID-19 restrictions in place throughout the Autumn Term 2020. Due to a second COVID-19 wave, pupils experienced another period of remote learning from the beginning of the Spring Term (January 2021). During this time work continued on the new build performing arts and sports wings and on 3 March 2021 practical completion of the site project was finally achieved. Students returned to school on 8 March 2021 to enjoy the use of their new spaces. A grand opening to celebrate the completion of the project was held on 2 July 2021, with Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP attending as guest of honour, and a programme of speeches and musical performances.
2019 was another milestone year in the history of the school. The project to move to the permanent site forged ahead with the selection of the contractor, architect plans drawn up, and furniture and ICT requirements confirmed. Planning was submitted for the new build, which included designs for the auditorium/performance block and the sports hall/activity block.
During the year a partnership was developed with Cobham Rugby Club for the creation of a new international standard artificial grass pitch adjacent to the school. This flood-lit facility offered exciting possibilities for all students within the sport curriculum and for competitive fixtures against other schools.
The sixth form designs were completed during this period and wings of the new building refurbished to provide state of the art accommodation for the new Year 12 cohort entering in September 2019.
The school's academic achievement was also noteworthy, with the best ever Key Stage 2 national curriculum test outcomes (100% success at reaching expected level in grammar, punctuation and spelling, and maths) as the founding reception class reached Year 6, and a strong first set of GCSE results for Year 11.
In April 2016 the School agreed to work in partnership with Surrey County Council to provide an additional 24 spaces for Reception pupils entering in September. The Old Police Station was refurbished to provide a new Early Years classroom, the external space was developed to include a new playground and 'pod' for instrumental tuition, and a lease was taken out once again at the Gospel Hall, to provide a new Music and Language facility.
The senior department put on their first CFS musical production with a very professional and highly successful performance of Oliver in the Barn Theatre, West Molesey. Cantamus Choir was formed later in the year, to perform at more formal occasions, such as the carol concert.
The sports department continued to develop, with teams being coached in a wide range of disciplines, competing at county level and succeeding in fixtures against state and private schools. Both junior and senior departments were awarded the Silver Sports Award.
July 2016 saw another milestone in the CFS journey, with our first cohort of Year 6 children taking SATS tests in the summer term and then transferring to the senior department in September. The pupils had made exceptional progress in reading and mathematics since being at CFS and the School was rated in the top 10% in the UK, well above the national average.
Another key moment in the history of the School arrived at the end of the summer, with the long-awaited announcement that Munro House (renamed to Main School in 2020) had been secured as the permanent Cobham site for CFS. The project to develop the site for Years 3 up to Sixth Form will be the next exciting phase on the School's journey (The Lower School will remain at The Old Police Station).
In the Autumn Term 2016 the CFS Modern Foreign Language department found themselves in the lime light, with a feature on BBC local news focusing on our approach to teaching the subject. Our caterers also found themselves on camera serving a specially prepared French lunch, complete with escargot.
At the end of the first all-through academic year CFS has an unexpected and challenging planning issue which meant that a new temporary building had to be found over the summer holiday period to accomodate the Year 7 and 8 cohorts. Surrey County Council came to our assistance, and we were able to take out a lease on a site in West-Molesey, the old Hurst Park Primary School premises. Once the transport solution to and from Cobham had been solved, the site proved to be very fit for purpose, allowing the successful delivery on the senior curriculum in the lead up to GCSE.
Our pupils continued to make extremely pleasing progress across the phases and Year 1 children scored 100% in the phonics screening check, placing CFS in the top 2% of schools nationally.
The admissions round for both departments were extremely over-subscribed, with CFS senior rated as the top school in Surrey for competition for first choice places.
The project to develop the senior department and re-structure as an all-through school, was progressed. A new leadership structure was devised to include an Executive Head, supported by a newly appointed Head of Senior and Head of Primary. In the lead up to opening the new department; a large staff recruitment round was undertaken, policies were overhauled, the curriculum was re-designed and an admissions round for Year 7 pupils was run.
Ofsted arrived in May, to inspect the primary department and the School received a glowing report, with a Good rating - a truly impressive achievement, given the short time the CFS had been open. The School's first ever residential was undertaken in the same term, with Year 6 having a week's stay in the Eden Project in Cornwall.
A search for a permanent home for the all-through school was being undertaken during this period and various options, including Chippings Farm and Anvil Lane in Cobham were considered and progressed.
A variation to the funding agreement was signed in July and the senior school opened successfully in September 2014, based temporarily in the Old Police Station, alongside the primary school.
It was an exciting first term, with the CFS string orchestra, accompanied by Yehudi Menuhin School students, invited to perform at a government reception at Lancaster House. There was a very special guest list, which included the Prime Minister, David Cameron and Nicky Morgan (Secretary of State for Education at the time). A thrilling occasion, which was a particular highlight in a very momentous year in the history of the school.
After a very successful first term, with our first cohort of pupils making superb progress in a small but happy learning environment, a question was raised concerning the future secondary education of the children. The proposers accepted there was a strong need for secondary provision in Cobham and submitted a bid at the beginning of January 2013 for a three form entry senior school, which was approved in May as part of wave 4 of the Free School programme. It was decided that the new senior would merge with the existing primary to form an all through school, to open in September 2014.
Temporary classroom units arrived at the Old Police Station site early in the Spring Term and the whole school (3 infant year groups) moved across from the Gospel Hall in February, with pupils carrying their own chair.
As the School was already proving very popular with parents in the community, the CFS team decided to expand more quickly than planned and accepted a Year 4 class in September 2013, in addition to a new Reception cohort. These children would be our first to sit SATS exams and transfer to the senior department from the primary in September 2016.
November 2013 was another milestone in the School's journey, as the primary department finally moved out of the temporary units and into its intended home, the re-furbished Old Police Station. A fitting launch event was very well attended and was a lovely opportunity to celebrate all that had been achieved on the School's journey.
The headteacher (Michaela Khatib) was appointed as first staff member for CFS in April, closely followed by the business manager (Catherine Marcus) and the primary teaching team.
2012 proved a very busy year in the pre-opening phase of the school. A project steering group was formed to oversee the delivery of all policies, staffing, governance, equipment, financial and ICT systems, catering, unifom, pupils admissions and a site before the September opening.
The funding agreement with the government was signed on 14 June, a very special day in the history of the school.
Planning delays to the temporary onsite units at the Old Police Station meant that another solution had to be found swiftly and the School took a lease on the Gospel Hall in Anyards Road, converting it into an infant department in August, just in time of the opening day.
2 September was pre-opening launch day. This was a very exciting occasion, with pupils running a marathon around the Yehudi Menuhin School grounds before attending a formal opening ceremony in The Menuhin Hall. Seeing the pupils in their uniforms for the first time was a very moving experience for all attendees.
5 September - the moment had arrived and Cobham Free School Primary opened as a new school for the Cobham community. It was a year of 'firsts' for the School, which included nativity plays, sports days and the exciting building conversion. Our pupils even visited the Old Police Station cells, before they were demolished.
The vision was born for a new school in Cobham with a music key strength, devised by a small team of proposers with a background in private education, finance, commerce and technology. Following a demand survey which established that the school would be popular with local parents, a bid was produced and submitted to the government.
After a rigorous assessment process the Department for Education approved the bid and announced that CFS would open as part of wave 2 of the Free Schools Programme, with a proposed opening date of September 2012.
The Old Police Station was identified as a suitable site for CFS and the Education Funding Agency worked closely with the proposer group to plan for the conversion of the building into a school.