Multi-academy trusts (MATs) are a driving force behind the free school programme. To this end, NSN has produced a suite of resources aimed at ensuring MATs who are applying to open a free school can structure their governance in the most efficient way. But it’s also worth moving beyond the technical details, and taking a look at some of the reasons why a trust would embark on this process, and what they’d hope to gain from it.
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Free Schools in the media
Fifteen young women from Saxmundham Free School are taking part in a debate at the House of Lords on the biggest barriers facing young women today. They will be part of a group of 200 young people taking part. The event is marking the 60th Anniversary of the 1958 Life Peerages Act which enabled women to become members of the House of Lords.
It was September 2016 and I still remember walking up to the busy reception of a hotel in York. There were lots of lanyards lined up neatly, my name said “proposed director”; it was the SPTA (School Partnership Trust) kick off event, featuring the new CEO’s speech highlighting the strategy for the trust and many other guest speakers.
Putting together a free school application is no easy task – as I well know – and all this work is done with no guarantee of success. The prize, however, is significant, as the impact of these new schools is already showing. It is also why more groups wanting to change education for the better should keep coming forward.
Sigrun Olafsdottir, Chief Operating Officer, said:
"The application process to set up a free school is extremely rigorous and time consuming, so all groups can be proud of their hard work to reach this stage. This is particularly true in this round of free school applications, which explicitly targets areas of greatest need.
But the truth is that it can also be a nerve-wracking time for all involved. The prospect of not getting into the preferred school, of missing out on what could be the only high-performing institution in the area, is a chilling thought for parents and students alike.
Free Schools in the media
Cumbria Academy for Autism (CAA) have appointed Richard Aindow as headteacher. He is currently deputy headteacher at Presfield High School and Specialist College in Southport, which caters for children with autism. In a statement on the CAA's website, Lynne Thornton, chair of the board of governors, said: ‘The opportunity to lead our school attracted an excellent field of candidates all of whom recognised Cumbria Academy for Autism as an exciting opportunity to transform autism education in the West Cumbria.’