The application process and criteria have changed significantly since wave 12. Wave 13 will only be open to proposer groups seeking to open mainstream primary, secondary, all-through and 16-19 free schools. The DfE have stated their intention to run a separare process for special and AP applicants in summer 2018.
Applicants who have already developed a bid on the basis of the previous criteria will need be aware of these changes and how they will impact the viability of their existing proposal. The criteria changes mean that some applications that would have been considered high potential under the wave 12 criteria could be unlikely to be approved in wave 13. Applicants who are yet to start writing a bid should also take account of the key changes to ensure they are aware of DfE priorities. NSN has produced a summary of the main differences between wave 12 and wave 13, which can be found here.
About the Development Programme
Securing a place on NSN's Development Programme provides access to a range of NSN services desgined to help you develop your proposal and write a strong application. Like all NSN support for groups in the application stage, the programme is free of charge. We ask groups to apply for a place to ensure we work with groups who are best placed to submit high quality applications meeting the DfE's criteria.
We have worked with around 70% of approved free schools, and we think that the support we offer is very beneficial to applicants. The feedback we have had from groups who have been on the Programme has been overwhelmingly positive, and approval rates for groups on the Programme clearly show its success, with Development Programme groups around a third more likely to get an interview, and 50% more likely to get approved than those not on it.
Groups on the Development Programme will be eligible for a range of services which will be tailored to the needs of each individual group, as assessed by our team:
- A named personal NSN Adviser who will work with you on the development of your application
- Networking with other free schools
- Feedback on your proposal from specialist free school advisers in education, operations, finance and governance, including former head teachers and school business managers
- A personalised support plan to help you complete the application to a good standard
- Written feedback on drafts of your application
- 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 were invited to one. If you have already been through the free school application process we may not be able to offer this to you
- Support to plan marketing your school
- Financial support may be available, although this is not guaranteed and the level of support will be determined on a case-by-case basis
Please note that the Development Programme is in no way linked to the DfE’s assessment process.
Applying for the Development Programme
Our window for assessing applications for our Wave 13 cohort is open. Places on the Programme will be given on a first-come-first-served basis; if the application window is closed, this page will be updated.
To apply for a place on the Development Programme please complete the application form here. To help you to complete the application form and ensure you provide us with the correct information, you should refer to the Development Programme criteria as you work through the application form.