NSN news and FAQs | newschoolsnetwork.org

NSN news and FAQs

Find answers to our most freqeuntly asked questions, and what steps NSN has taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Update from the Director

Statement from NSN Director, Unity Howard, on NSN's response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic


Is NSN still providing support services?

Our dedicated teams continue to operate during this period. Some of our support programmes were paused initially, so that schools were not receiving burdensome communication or requests. We are broadening our work to support the sector during this time, while returning to deliver all services using a phased approach.

What will happen to NSN’s events programme?

All external events arranged by NSN have been cancelled until further notice. Where possible, events are being delivered virtually, and we are hosting additional webinars and virtual roundtables to support the sector. Planning for events scheduled to take place later in the year is continuing. 

What steps has NSN taken to protect staff?

In line with Government guidance, NSN offices are closed and will remain so until it is safe to re-open them. Teams continue to support free schools and trusts whilst working remotely, and we have implemented necessary adjustments to ensure our staff are able to work from home comfortably.

When can I next apply to open a free school?

Free school applications can be submitted when an application wave (round) is announced by the Department for Education (DfE). A future wave has not yet been announced, but we will provide updates when possible.

Local authority led presumption competitions may still be run on a rolling basis. If you are interested in applying for a live presumption competition, please get in touch at helpdesk@newschoolsnetwork.org.

Can I still work on my free school proposal?

Free school proposals must meet specific criteria published by the Department for Education, which varies from wave to wave. However, there are number of elements you can begin thinking about now to start planning your project. Please see our guidance for preparing for future mainstream waves here. This guidance has been put together based on our many of years of experience of supporting applicants.

If you are interested in a Special or Alternative Provision free school, please get in touch.

You can book a 1:1 virtual meeting with one of our dedicated free school advisers to talk through your plans, or ask any specific questions you may have about the process.

We have a range of free resources available on all aspects of putting together a strong proposal.

If there is anything we can do to support your free school idea, please get in touch at helpdesk@newschoolsnetwork.org.


Please note: This page will be regularly updated as we learn more from supporting the sector at this time. To be kept up-to-date with the latest news, follow NSN on Twitter.