Finance for special schools

The DfE ask you to provide a viable budget that will deliver your vision for your school and is based on realistic assumptions.

A budget plan

You produce this using the template provided by the DfE. The information provided in your budget plan should be consistent with other parts of your application e.g. the staffing structure and pupil numbers in the education plan should match the figures in your budget.

In the 'Notes/assumptions' column of the DfE's financial template, or in a narrative in the main application form, you should explain your approach to completing the financial template, and the thinking behind decisions you have made. As part of this, you need to clearly explain the assumptions you have made about income and expenditure and show that these are both realistic and appropriate – for example, by saying that you have based these on the budget of a similar school to your proposed school.

As a special free school, you will need to include in your budget the top-up funding that you will charge Local Authorities who are placing pupils with a statement/ EHC Plan at your school. In order to reassure the DfE that your school will be financially viable, you will therefore need commitments to the top-up funding you require.

Besides developing your education plan, this section of the application form is likely to take the most amount of time to complete, since it should reflect and be developed in conjuction with your education and staffing plan, and will almost certainly need a number of iterations.

You should therefore ensure that you dedicate enough time and resources to it in order to be able to do this successfully. The DfE will see the quality of your financial plans as an indicator of the financial expertise within your group, as well as whether your free school would be financially viable. If you cannot convince the DfE that your free school would be financially sound or that you have the capacity to make effective financial descisions, then you are extremely unlikely to be approved.

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