Project Management Partnership |

Project Management Partnership

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

NSN’s Project Management Partnership Service is for groups planning to outsource some or all of the project management of their free school in pre-opening. The Project Management Partnership takes into account the volume, complexity and timing of tasks in different phases of pre-opening. With additional bolt-on services available to buy, the NSN Project Management Partnership Service is the most bespoke offering within the NSN Delivery Programme, but includes the following elements:

Access to a named NSN Project Manager

NSN’s Project Managers are heavily embedded within the Delivery Team, allowing them to draw upon our organisation’s deep institutional knowledge: lessons learnt from each project are routinely shared as a means of disseminating best practice and identifying workable solutions.

Access to a range of NSN Associates

Our Project Managers are able to freely call upon our team of Associates – experienced consultants each with a particular area of pre-opening expertise.

Planning and operational delivery

Leveraging our vast experience and unrivalled knowledge of the free schools process, the named Project Manager will develop and deliver an operational plan in-line with the free school group’s strategic objectives.

Adaptability and Cost

The role of the Project Manager, and consequently the cost, can vary greatly depending upon the needs and location of the free school project.

Some groups will require a Project Manager to oversee the whole project by coordinating meetings and the delivery of the necessary tasks for the DfE. This means the Project Manager’s responsibility would include: creating the project plan; creating and updating the risk register; monitoring progress and ensuring internal deadlines, as well as those set by external agencies like the ESFA, are met. However, the work on deliverables such as the Section 10 consultation, the Education Brief or the Admissions Policy will be conducted by the members of the project team.

In contrast, other groups may require a Project Manager who both oversees the project and is responsible for key aspects of some or all deliverables. A Project Manager could, for example, be involved in the drafting of the governance and communications plans, marketing, developing pre- and post-opening budgets, stakeholder consultation, and admissions. This will require a more involved Project Manager, and so will likely yield a more expensive contract.

The total cost will also be affected by geographical location. As with all our services, the client is responsible for disbursement costs incurred by NSN in the delivery of services. While the location and frequency of meetings is ultimately at the client’s discretion, it is nonetheless something to be mindful of when thinking about the project management support you are tendering for; it is important to strike a balance between regular contact time and cost efficiency. Generally speaking, NSN would expect the Project Manager to attend all Project Steering Group meetings as a minimum. Wherever possible, we would look to conduct ancillary meetings via video conferencing or other means to reduce costs.

It is also worth noting that, as a government funded charity, NSN maintains a stringent expenses policy: our subsistence allowance is capped at £8pp for lunch, all travel is booked as far in advance as possible and never first-class.

The tendering process

Groups interested in procuring NSN’s Project Management Partnership Service will need to prepare an invitation to tender (ITT) in line with the DfE’s procurement guidelines. This involves creating a tender document specifying what exactly you would require a Project Manager to do, as well as how you will appraise responses.

Once you have developed your ITT, you may send it to known providers, advertise it on your own and possibly the Local Authority’s website with a time limit for a response.

Find out more about the other Delivery Programme services