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Intro from Mr P Smith (CEO)

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 December 2021

As Christmas is nearly upon us I thought it would be a good time to provide an update on Treetops Free School.  It has been a fantastic first term, although my only regret is still not being able to invite parents in to school so we can all meet face to face, but unfortunately the country is still blighted by COVID and we are having to remain cautious.

The Free School pupils have produced some fantastic work this term and worked really hard.  I have enjoyed sharing their achievements and efforts each week when I present a certificate to a pupil in each class who has been nominated by the staff that support them.

One of my highlights this term was to accompany 9GN on a Forest School session to Grangewaters, whilst there the pupils were able to climb trees, light fires with a flint & steel, and learn how to whittle wood with knives, which was then used to toast marshmallows and make s’mores.

The building of Treetops Free School is really beginning to take shape and there is noticeable progress each day.  I was fortunate this week to take a site walk which was really exciting, it really gave me an insight to the size and layout of the school building, I can’t wait to see how much it changes between now and when we return after Christmas.

The video below was shot a couple of weeks ago, but has great aerial footage of the Free School Site.

I haven’t been the only person lucky enough to walk the Free School site pupils in 5Br and Gruffalo Class where given Hi-Viz jackets, hard hats and goggles and shown around by the site manager.  They were also allowed to sit in some of the plant vehicles being used in construction of the school, although they were not allowed to drive them which was a disappointment to one or two pupils.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank anybody who has purchased items for the school from the Amazon Wishlist (, and Grays Rotary Club who kindly donated money to Treetops Free School to purchase new outdoor play equipment for our VB classes.

Have a fantastic Christmas, and I look forward to welcoming the pupils back in the New Year.

Stay well, keep safe

Anthony Hattam – Headteacher Treetops Free School


Free School Update October 2021

Wow! We are at the end of our first half term, the time has really flown by.  I have really enjoyed getting to know the pupils that attend Treetops Free School, they have all settled in so well and are making fantastic progress. 

As I write this the pupils in 5BE are enjoying jumping and exercising outside of my office as part of our wellbeing day which is focusing on ‘Be Active’, the smiles, chat and enjoyment is so positive, all of the pupils are having a great time talking to each other and encouraging each, learning can be so much fun. 

Last week the pupils from both Treetops Free School and Treetops School had their joint Harvest Assembly where each class performed and showcased their talents, the only thing missing from this were the parents, who we were unable to invite in due to COVID precautions.  The performances were amazing, hopefully next year we will be in a position to have parents here to support their children and witness the joy. 

I was asked to join 9GN a couple of weeks ago to be their ‘hot seat guest’ where they questioned me about the Free School building and what it would be like.  They had so many great questions, and even raised things that I hadn’t considered as well as offering suggestions about things that we can do.  I was also able to share with them some aerial photographs, which can be seen below. 

 Before the summer the Free School site was just ‘wasteland’ the transformation over the last few weeks has been brilliant, we can now start to see the structure taking place, supporting foundations are in, brickwork is being laid, over the October half term we are expecting to see cranes on site and walls being lifted into place. 

As the newest school in our local community, we are looking to access the best school resources for our students. As all schools face difficult financial times, parents often ask us how they can help personally by providing the school with something it needs. Treetops Free School has set up an Amazon Wish List for parents to purchase educational and sensory resources for our classes, should they wish to do so.  Please click on the link if you would like to take a look at the wish list 

Yesterday I was lucky enough to spend the day in VB2FS where we made cobwebs, decorated biscuits with spooky faces, and used glue a glitter to make sparkly cobweb pictures.  In play after lunch, I found myself riding a child’s tricycle with a pupil sat in the back on a platform area around their outside play space before we went to PE, finally we finished the day with some relaxing yoga.  To say I slept well that evening is an understatement, but I had a great time. 

Have a fantastic half term break. 

Stay well, keep safe 

Anthony Hattam – Headteacher Treetops Free School 



Free School Update 16th July 2021

As we approach the final few days of the summer term, I am happy to report that the conversion of the new Sports Hall and adjacent building into temporary classroom accommodation is well underway, and on schedule to be completed during the summer break ready for occupation in the new term.  The groundworks for the Free School building have now begun with haste, with lots of heavy plant vehicles on site getting everything ready for construction.

During Admissions Meetings this half term, I am pleased to say that all of the spaces available for the first phase of Treetops Free School opening were offered.  However it was with regret that both Treetops Free School and Treetops had to cancel planned transition events during which we hoped to meet our new pupils.  As a Trust we felt that with the delayed lifting of restrictions and the increase in COVID infection rates, provided too much of a risk to our pupils, staff and their parents; which I am sure everybody understood, whilst sharing our disappointment.

As I sit here writing this the sun is shining and the temperature rising, which can only be a sign of a good summer break for all.  I hope that all of the new Treetops Free School pupils enjoy and make the most of the holidays, the Treetops Free School staff and I cannot wait to meet them in September on the first step of a new adventure for all.

Stay well, keep safe

Anthony Hattam – Headteacher Treetops Free School


Free School Update 9th June 2021

This is my first update since taking up the post as Headteacher of Treetops Free School, and I am pleased to say news about the construction of the Free School is positive and that we are in a position to officially open in September 2021.

The new Sports Hall and attached accommodation is nearly complete and will be handed over by the end of June, and then fitted out to accommodate temporary classrooms as mentioned in previous updates.  The DfE contract for the construction of the Free School has now been agreed and signed by NetZero, with a completion date of April 2022 agreed, we are expecting work to begin imminently.

We are now looking forward to September and I am delighted to say that we have offered school places to a number of young people who will form the first cohort of Treetops Free School pupils. We will be holding a transition week at the start of July where all of the pupils attending Treetops Free School will meet their teaching and support staff in preparation for the new school year.

I know for many pupils and parents it has been anxious time waiting to hear about the opening of Treetops Free School, but thanks to the hard work of staff behind the scenes, we are nearly there and I cannot wait to meet the new pupils during transition week, for what will be the start of an exciting future for everybody involved.

Stay well, keep safe

Anthony Hattam – Headteacher Treetops Free School


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.

Stay safe.

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.

Stay safe.

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.

Treetops Free School Statutory Consultation

Consultation Survey for Treetops Free School – Online

Consultation Survey for Treetops Free School – (PDF , Word)

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

Four elevations

Internal Courtyard

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