Resources: Special | newschoolsnetwork.org

Resources: Special

The resources below have been developed by New Schools Network to support groups applying to open special 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.

Special application guidance

NSN has produced a handbook for groups applying to open special free schools. This guidance should be used in conjunction with the Department for Education’s application guidance and materials. The DfE’s criteria for assessment outline the criteria that will be used to assess the sections of the application form. This handbook aims to help you fulfil these criteria to the best of your ability.

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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.

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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. 

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Completing section D1 (special)

NSN has produced discrete guidance on completing section D1 for special school applicants. This resource will give you top tips to consider when completing the section about your pupil cohort and curriculum offer. It should be used in conjunction with our special free school application handbook.

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Completing section D3 (special)

NSN has produced discrete guidance on completing section D3 for special school applicants. This resource will give you top tips to consider when completing the section about your staffing structure. It should be used in conunction with our special free school application handbook.

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Evidence of need (special)

Demonstrating evidence of need for a special free school is a key part of the DfE’s criteria. This document details what the DfE are looking for, sets out questions to consider, and suggests activities and resources that you could use to engage commissioning local authorities and the local community.

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Template commissioner letter (special)

Groups proposing a special free school will need to gather commissioning letters from commissioning local authorities. This document can be used as template for requesting these letters. It highlights some of the key information that is required from your commissioners.

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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.

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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.

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