Applicant resources: Mainstream and 16-19 | Page 2 |

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.

Governance in MATs (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 their multi-academy trust (MAT) or existing schools that need to create a MAT in order to establish a new free school.


Skills gap analysis tool (mainstream, special, AP)

In order for the DfE to approve your application, you need to be able to show that your governing body will have the necessary skills and expertise required to set up a free school. This is a simple tool you can use to help determine the areas where you need to recruit additional people to your team.


Role of governors (mainstream, special, AP)

If a school is going to be successful, it will need to be able to rely on a strong governance structure and a dedicated team of engaged and skilled people. Here we look in more detail about the role of school governors. We set out what is expected of governors, describe how their roles change as these schools are established and offer advice on who you should seek to appoint to the role.


Completing the budget plan (mainstream)

All applicants are required to complete a finance plan demonstrating how the budget is intended to operate at their proposed school. This guidance provides an overview of some of the key considerations for mainstream and 16-19 free school applicants.


Finding a site guidance (mainstream, special, AP)

This document offers guidance on site, both at the application and pre-opening stages of the free school cycle. It details the actions that groups can take in the application phase to help identify a site. It also provides an outline of the roles that different stakeholders will take during the pre-opening phase.


Comparison of different types of free school (mainstream, special, AP)

There are many different types of school in England and this document is designed to help you distinguish between them. This document provides a brief description of academies (of which free schools are a type), maintained schools, and other types of school and provides information about how they compare in areas such as  curriculum, staffing, admissions and finance.


Curriculum summaries (mainstream)

Free schools benefit from academy freedoms and are not required to follow the National Curriculum.  This resource provides an overview of some of the different curricula and approaches used by schools, along with links for finding further information about them.


Sports specialism (mainstream)

This document provides information on what a sport specialism is and what this could look like in practice in an academy or free school.


Boarding provision (mainstream)

Free schools are able to provide boarding facilities for their pupils. Adding boarding facilities to your free school can offer advantages but also brings certain challenges. This guidance has been developed with the help of the State Boarding Schools’ Association (SBSA) and highlights some of the key areas you will need to consider when preparing an application to open a free school with boarding provision.