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Resources

Sites and buildings: Site and buildings guidance

Finding and securing a site for your school, as well as designing and constructing your school’s buildings, will mean working closely with agencies within the DfE, especially Free Schools Capital (FSC) and their property company, LocatED. The path to a well sited, fit for purpose and inspiring new school requires difficult decisions as well as risks, particularly regarding time and cost. Handling this requires active management and careful communication with your prospective parents and other stakeholders.

To achieve the best outcome requires attention to details foreign to normal day-to-day school management like property management, school design and operations. The FSC are the experts from a technical and financial point of view but they do not know your school, your priorities or your ethos. They base their decisions on generic building bulletins, health and safety documentation and legal and capital requirements. Your involvement is critical to achieving the best outcome for you.

This guide includes a glossary and is provided as part of NSN’s Foundation Advisory Service. It should be read in conjunction with NSN’s primer on Finding a Site: Introductory guidance . A more detailed guide including checklists and tools is available alongside specialist site related support under the NSN Site Advisory Service.

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Governance: Writing your governance plan guidance

Establishing a strong governance structure in the pre-opening period is essential to the continued success of your trust and of your free school. During pre-opening, you will need to submit a complete governance plan to the DfE for approval. This guidance aims to provide an overview of what needs to be included in the governance plan you will submit to the DfE. It includes practical guidance and lessons learned from groups that have opened free schools in the past. 

Your group may benefit from more tailored advice from our governance associates, you may wish to consider the NSN Essentials Advisory Services or our Project Management Partnership. These services provide access to illustrations, exemplars and expert guidance developed to support school governance and the effective growth of MATs. 

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