Your vision for your school

Your vision is the overall mission, values, features and feel of your proposed school. The vision should combine analysis of your anticipated pupil cohort with your thinking on the best possible educational offer for them. It should give a clear idea of what you are aiming for and why; the rest of the application will detail how you will achieve it.

Your vision will form the basis for all other decisions about your school – the way you organise your curriculum, staffing, how you allocate the budget, what premises are appropriate and so on. It should be clear and succinct, as well as coherent and consistent with all the other parts of the application.

Creating your vision

Section C of the application assesses your vision for your school. The criteria for this section ask you to outline the following elements, so you should bear these in mind when building your vision for your school: 

  • Your rationale for the school – The case for why your particular school is needed in your area, and why it would best meet the needs of pupils. Your rationale will vary depending on the school you want to set up but should mention any shortage of places in the area and the quality of existing education provision. You should also describe the pupils the school will cater for. AP and special schools should include information specific to pupils with the specific needs the school will cater for, and a description of the needs of their pupil cohort.  
  • Your vision statement – A summary of the school’s key features, including the proposed age range, the ethos, and what you want it to achieve. This should be at the core of what you tell your community and commissioners when making them aware of your proposal, and you should keep it brief, focused, aspirational and specific.

A clear vision is the foundation of a strong application to start a free school and the decisions you make in the rest of your application will stem from this, so it is crucial that you think carefully about what the vision for your school will be.

Other useful resources:

Our guide to creating a vision

Other useful guidance 

  • Our mainstream, special and alternative provision application guidance gives more detailed support on writing section C of your application (your vision).
  • Our free school videos give an inside view of six open free schools, showing how their ideas look in reality.
  • Our Data Sources page has links to various sources of information that will help you to find out about the existing local schools in your area and how they are performing. This information should help you to identify the key features your school should have to best meet the needs of pupils in your area.
  • Our guidance on faith free schools.
  • DfE publication on the ways in which free schools are using the freedoms available to them.