NSN has supported free school groups in pre-opening since 2014. NSN’s unrivalled knowledge and experience has been informed by its work with over two-thirds of open and approved free school groups throughout the application and pre-opening phases.

All approved free schools are able to access NSN’s core advisory service, completely free of charge. The Foundation Advisory Service delivers guidance to groups in pre-opening through a series of events and resources, as well as providing opportunities to interact with and learn from successful free school leaders from around the country. The foundational offer includes:

An invitation to NSN’s pre-opening launch event

Delivered in partnership with the DfE, this post-approval event represents an opportunity to prepare for the pre-opening period, to build relations with other free school leaders and to reflect on lessons learnt from NSN’s network of successful open free schools.

Key pre-opening resources

In collaboration with its wide network of experienced Associates, NSN has developed guidance to help groups navigate the complex pre-opening period – from securing a site to developing a comprehensive marketing plan.

A Q&A service

A helpdesk service for all free schools in pre-opening, NSN answers any questions you may have over the telephone or by email.

Invitations to NSN Spotlight visits to open free schools

These termly events provide groups with an opportunity to visit a high-performing free school and to learn about the school’s journey from conception through to its first Ofsted inspection. 

Invitations to NSN events focusing on the final stages of pre-opening

Two cohort-wide events held in the year prior to your opening date, focusing on the final stages of pre-opening and successfully leading an open free school.

Networking opportunities

In addition to NSN’s regular programme of events, it provides focused opportunities for school leaders to share their expertise and experience of pre-opening.  

Workshops and seminars

In association with external partners, NSN facilitates a series of workshops and seminars to discuss specific aspects of pre-opening in detail. These sessions offer free school leaders an opportunity to discuss their experiences of particular processes and to inform future developments.

Fortnightly newsletter

Groups on the Foundation Advisory Service receive a fortnightly update from NSN with information about upcoming events, policy news and links to useful resources. 

Find out more about the other Delivery Programme services