You will need to demonstrate to the DfE that you have robust plans for how your school will be governed once it is set up. Effective governance is necessary to ensure the success of your free school. 

The DfE will specifically assess two elements of your plans:

  • The individuals you have proposed as governors and their suitability for the role, including their experience and expertise, as well as your plans for recruiting governors.
  • The governance structure you are proposing and whether this will provide strong oversight of the free school, with clear lines of accountability.

Your proposed governors

In order to show convincing plans for governance you will need individuals with a strong track record of senior educational expertise in the type of education you wish to offer and those with the ability to provide robust financial monitoring. In addition to this, access to individuals with business, governance, HR, legal, and estates expertise is useful.

You must be able to explain to the DfE how you will recruit a strong and appropriately skilled governing body for your school and show that some of these individuals are already involved in the application. Please see our guidance on building your team for further information on how you can recruit individuals with the relevant skills to your group.

Governance structure

You will also need to set out your governance structure and explain how it will operate. In a single academy trust this will consist of your members, the governing body of the school and any associated sub-committees. In a multi academy trust this would involve the members, trustees and any committees or local governing bodies. The DfE needs to see that you have plans to set in place a structure which means that governors will be appropriately informed and able to challenge the leadership of the school in order to ensure it performs well. 

Other useful resources:

DfE documents