Media Partner
2018 Zone Sponsors
Strategic Media Partner

New Schools Network

New Schools Network is a charity that aims to improve the quality of education in England by helping to get more good schools set up. NSN has worked with over 60 per cent of the free schools that have opened or been approved to open so far. We want to help any group with a clear vision, a coherent education plan, a strong team and support from local parents, provided they can convince us that the school they want to set up is likely to be well above average. In particular, we want to help people to set up good schools in parts of the country where the quality of the local provision is not good enough. By offering advice, guidance and support, the charity has been instrumental in helping hundreds of groups of parents, teachers, charities and schools to establish new schools.

Free schools: The basics

•There are 391 free schools currently open, with more than 300 on the way.

•Free schools have created 400,000 places.

•Record numbers of applications are coming through, with over 300 groups applying to set up schools in the most recent application round, and more groups than ever on NSN’s Development Programme.

•Free schools are helping disadvantaged pupils access a high-quality education, being nearly three times more likely to be located in the most deprived areas of the country than the least deprived areas.

•Free schools are located where new school places are needed, with 83% of approved free schools located in areas of recognised need.

•Free schools are more likely to be rated Outstanding than all other schools – 30% of free schools are Outstanding compared to a national average of 21%.

•Free schools are more likely to be oversubscribed than any other type of state school.

•Free schools are demonstrating strong academic progress – from the very start of the school life to the very end. Free schools are outperforming all other types of state school at Key Stage 1 in each subject, and they are getting better A level results on average than all other types of state school. At Key Stage 4, free schools are getting above average GCSE results and are joint top of the progress league table alongside academy converters.

•70% of A-Level entries by free schools were in ‘facilitating subjects’ – those deemed by the Russell Group as the subjects that best prepare students for entrance to top universities.

NSN Advisory Service

NSN’s Advisory Service supports groups through the free school application process. The Advisory Team offers universal services to all groups, and intensive support through the Development Programme. The support NSN offers to those at application stage is free to access.

Universal Service

The Advisory Team provides a range of services that can be accessed by anyone interested in setting up a free school, at any stage of their free school application thinking. This support includes:

  • Booking a one-to-one meeting, which is an hour long discussion with one of our advisers about all aspects of the free school application process when you are at an early stage. This can take place in person at either our London or Manchester office, or over the phone
  • Registering to attend Free Schools: The Basics events across the county throughout the year, which are half-day workshops designed to help you get started on your application
  • Access to our detailed library of online resources to help construct mainstream, special, and alternative provision applications, as well as to prepare you for interview
  • Contacting us by email ([email protected]) or phone (020 7537 9208 or 0161 638 8613) to ask further questions
Presumption Competition Support

NSN also supports groups who apply to set up schools via the local authority presumption route. This support includes all of the universal services above as well as enrolment onto the Development Programme, through which you will receive a package of the services above, tailored to your needs.

New Schools Network has supported groups applying through the local authority commissioned special free schools competition process which began in July 2017, and will continue to support groups which apply through future presumption competition processes.

Development Programme

In addition to this, NSN’s Advisory Service also offers a bespoke and intensive package of support for free school applicants who are actively working on a free school proposal called the Development Programme. Applicants who successfully enrol on the Development Programme will access a range of services aimed to help you to develop your proposal and write an application that effectively addresses the Department for Education’s (DfE) criteria.

We have worked with over 60% of approved free schools, and approval rates for groups on the Development Programme show the value of the support we provide. Groups on the Development Programme are nearly twice as likely to get an interview and nearly twice as likely to get approved than those not on it.

The feedback we have had from groups who have been on the programme has been overwhelmingly positive. 96% of groups supported by the Development Programme in the most recent free school application round rated the support NSN provided as helpful or very helpful.

Groups on the Development Programme can access a combination of the following range of services based on the needs of each applicant:

  • A named personal NSN adviser who will work with you on the development of your application, through a personalised support plan to complete the application to the best standard within set deadlines
  • Feedback on your proposal from specialist free school advisers in education, operations, finance and governance, including former head teachers, school business managers, and specialists in alternative provision and special education
  • Written feedback on drafted sections of your application, including full written feedback on your application prior to submission to the DfE
  • A series of tailored workshops on completing a high-quality application and opening a good school
  • A mock interview designed to replicate the interview you would have with the DfE if you are invited to one
  • Support to help with marketing your school and gathering evidence of parental demand
  • Networking with other free schools

NSN Delivery Programme

NSN has supported free school groups in pre-opening since 2014. NSN’s unrivalled knowledge and experience has been informed by our work with over 70% of open and approved free school groups throughout the application and pre-opening phases.

The NSN Delivery Programme fills gaps in capacity and capability, providing a range of support options to prepare schools for a successful opening.

Our exclusive programme of advice, support and project management has been developed to comply with the DfE and ESFA guidance and focuses on the areas that our experience shows will provide free schools with the most value in pre-opening. Our dynamic and adaptable team has built a solid reputation for professionalism and expertise; NSN Project Managers and Associates have worked on over 500 free school projects – ranging from supporting groups in the application and pre-opening phases, to setting up and working in free schools.

NSN Foundation Advisory Service

Free of charge for all approved schools

  • Post approval launch event
    A launch event delivered in partnership with the DfE
  • Question-and-answer service
    A helpdesk service for all free schools in pre-opening (via telephone or email)
  • Resources
    A selection of key pre-opening templates, guides and resources
  • Networking
    Spotlight visits to open free schools
  • Events delivered in partnership with relevant external partners
    For smaller communities within the broader free school family
  • Ready-to-open events in the final year of pre-opening
    Cohort-wide events in spring and summer in your final year of opening, focusing on the final stages of pre-opening
NSN site Advisory Service

Core costs: £9,500

  • Access to NSN Site Associates
    A series of meetings with NSN’s Associates throughout pre-opening
  • Access to a named NSN Project Manager
  • A point of contact throughout pre-opening
  • Detailed feedback from meetings with NSN Site Associates and NSN Project Managers
    Key feedback and summary of next steps shared with your group
  • Comprehensive guidance documents for groups in pre-opening
    Documents focusing on helping free schools to navigate the defined processes, rather than duplicating existing support provided by the ESFA or the DfE
NSN Essentials Advisory Service

Core costs: £12,700

  • Access to a named NSN Project Manager and NSN Associates
    A point of contact throughout pre-opening plus access to NSN’s network of Associates
  • Detailed feedback from meetings with NSN Associates and NSN Project Managers
  • Key feedback and summary of next steps shared with your group
  • Two bespoke Spotlight visits to open free schools relevant to your free school
    Visits to similar free schools to network but with the focus on opportunities for 1-on-1 engagement with school leaders on topics of concern
  • Intensive training for free school media spokespeople
    An intensive session with an experienced media trainer to prepare free school leaders for media engagement
NSN Project Management Partnershi

Please contact us for bespoke cost

  • A core project management service, plus optional bolt-ons at an additional cost
    NSN can provide support in the following work streams: general project management, governance, legal, staffing, marketing and communications, finance, administration and contracts, stakeholder consultation, admissions
  • Access to a named NSN Project Manager and NSN Associates
  • A point of contact throughout pre-opening plus access to NSN’s network of Associates
  • Planning and operational delivery
    The development of a strategic project plan, based on unrivalled expertise and experience of free school process, and delivery of the operational aspects of the plan, in partnership with free school groups

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