‘The Island Free School’ Principal appointed

The name of the Island Free School’s founding Principal has been disclosed to OnTheWight.

Steph Boyd - The Island Free School

The name of the Principal of the newly-forming Isle of Wight Free School has been disclosed to OnTheWight.

Steph Boyd, who originally trained as a teacher at Ventnor Middle is to lead the school as Principal, leaving his current role as senior leader (Assistant head level) at Carisbrooke College.

OnTheWight spoke with Steph, whose enthusiasm for the role and the project is obvious.

Steph told OnTheWight,

I am delighted to have been appointed as Principal to The Island Free School. My appointment is the culmination of eighteen months hard work, which began with a phone call in June 2011 from a group of teachers and parents, whose concern over the state of secondary education was so great, that they had decided to apply to the Department for Education for the right to open a new school.

The intake of the school will be limited to 125 pupils, and with it being a new school, it will only need a small site to get started. A dedicated school will be built in the coming years. When each year is filled, the total number of pupils will only be 640.

Council supportive
Steph said the Isle of Wight council has been very supportive of the project the whole way along, with ex-IW council leader David Pugh being very supportive of the Free School principle – and the current set of Independent councillors even more so.

It’s apparent the enthusiasm isn’t just at Principal level. Last night the DfE officials, who are involved in each step of the school’s development went to Ryde to meet the team behind the Island Free School.

By way of showing the tremendous enthusiasm of all of those involved, we understand that the DfE officials were highly-impressed with the number of those connected with the project who turned out.

Selection process
Warren Riches, Chair of Governors and group leader on the Governance team, told OnTheWight that they had been impressed with the three high-calibre candidates that had reached the final stages of interview – two from the Island and one from Wales.

The process, overseen by an Ofsted inspector, was thorough he tells us, including a formal interview; a written paper; and observations.

Warren added that Steph had excellent references from the headteacher he currently works with.

School will “do things differently”
When asked about the reasons to form the school, Warren told OnTheWight, that they wanted to “do things differently” and want the parents to be very involved with the school.

The school would be built around grammar-school principles, such as uniform and discipline being important, but entry would be non-selective and that every pupil, no matter their educational ability, would be equally encouraged, so those pupils were given a chance, “not to get lost.”

“We’ve only got one chance at doing this right and we intend to do the best job of it”, he said, “We didn’t want to just sit there and moan, so we rolled our sleeves up and got on with it.”

Wednesday, 2nd October, 2013 11:52am


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Filed under: Education, Isle of Wight News, South Wight, Top story

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9 Comments on "‘The Island Free School’ Principal appointed"

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“The school would be built around grammar-school principles….but entry would be non-selective.”

For now maybe, but later no.

In terms of admissions, free schools cannot select by ability, but can select up to 10% of pupils on aptitude for a specialism such as sport or art.

Then it will change again, to what?

The Island Free School
Central to the vision of the Island Free School is a belief in a fully academic education for all. Our admissions policy, which can be viewed at http://www.theislandfreeschool.org, clearly states that we are fully inclusive and that if we are over subscribed, which is looking increasingly likely, we will award places through a lottery process that will be externally organised via the local authority. Any change to… Read more »

It cannot be offered to “all” only the 640 intake.

The Secretary of State will change the admissions policy.There is no guarantee with Gove.


You can guarantee that ministers like Gove will interfere in things they know nothing about- thus making them worse- for purely ideological purposes, such as shovelling more state money into the private pockets of their friends and donors.


I suspect that Michael Gove is a role model for our own Chris Whitehouse. They have a lot in common.


Is it a 5FE school or like the Grammar that I attended, a 4 FE with large classes?

The Island Free School

The Island Free School will be a 5 form entry school with 125 per cohort. The school will have 625 students in total.

L R Traite

It must be gratifying that Mr Boyd received such an accolade from Carisbrooke Head Peter Shaw.
Mr Boyd must also be relieved that his contributions to meetings in his new role will not be limited to a two minute guillotine.

It sounds like a good idea, should raise standards, even if it just aspires to become a CTKlet. Only note of caution is that Mr. Boyd would appear to have no senior experience as a Head, or even as a Deputy Head. Some secondaries on our Island have suffered quite unnecessarily in the past few years by having people appointed who have never been in full charge… Read more »