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.
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