Applicant resources: Mainstream and 16-19 |

Applicant resources: Mainstream and 16-19

The resources below have been developed by New Schools Network to support groups applying to open mainstream primary, secondary and 16-19 free schools. These resources can be filtered by category using the function on the right. It is important that these resources are used in conjunction with the Department for Education's criteria for assessment.

Creating your vision (mainstream)

Your overarching vision for the free school will form the basis for all other decisions about your school – from your education plan, to your staffing structure and financial template. This document explains more about how to construct your vision.


Building your team (mainstream)

Successful free school applications come from groups with diverse backgrounds. To be approved by the Department for Education you must demonstrate that you have a team with the necessary skills and expertise to set up and run a good school. This document explains more about how to approach building your team. 


Completing section E3 - Staffing (mainstream)

Section E3 demonstrates how your staffing structure will match your proposed curriculum and financial plans. This document is intended to help you think about how best to present approaches to assessment, data tracking and monitoring the quality of teaching. This document is intended to help you construct a balanced staffing structure to deliver your curriculum, and have a credible contingency plan if your school were to be at less than full capacity.


Completing Sections B1 and B2 - Need (mainstream)

Demonstrating evidence of need for your free school is a key part of the DfE’s application process. The DfE have stated that if the information provided in sections B1 and B2 of your application does not meet the criteria, they will not continue to assess the application. This document explains what the DfE are specifically looking for, and how NSN can support you with this.


Support survey (mainstream)

You will need to be able to demonstrate that your mainstream school will be popular and fill to capacity. To do this you must provide evidence that you have effectively marketed the school to a diverse cross-section of the local community and parents. One way of doing this is by using a survey. An example of an appropriate survey can be found in this document.


Setting up a company limited by guarantee (mainstream,special, AP)

This guidance explains how to set up a company limited by guarantee (CLG), which you will need to do as part of your application to open a free school. The company limited by guarantee will act as the legal body through which your group will apply to open the free school and eventually sign a funding agreement with the Secretary of State when final approval has been given for your free school to open. This document also discusses some of the important issues your group will need to consider as part of setting up the CLG.


Completing section F1 and F2 - Capacity and capability (mainstream, special, AP)

These sections of your free school application look at the range of skills, experience and capacity of your team members. This resource offers guidance on how to complete sections F1 and F2  of the application to meet the DfE’s criteria effectively. It also discusses the range of skill sets required on your team and how to outline an effective narrative on managing this project.


Completing section F3 - Governance (mainstream, special, AP)

Section F3 of your free school application asks you to outline the governance structure of your trust once your school is open. This resource offers guidance on how to complete section F3 of the application to meet the DfE’s criteria effectively. It explains how to usefully present information relating to your overall governance structure and what questions you should be addressing to demonstrate that your plans ensure effective decision making within your trust.


Governance in SATs (mainstream, special, AP)

Establishing the right governance structure for your school at the outset is crucial to ensure that your school will be managed effectively and successfully. This document will help groups looking to set up a free school in a single academy trust.