How NSN supports groups
There are two levels of service that NSN offers to groups looking to apply to open a Free School, the contents of which are outlined below:
- Our series of 'On the Road' training events;
- Our annual 'Free Schools Live!' event;
- An hour long 1:1 surgery with one of our advisers;
- Advice from our team via phone and e-mail;
- In-depth written guidance on our website covering how to st up a school; and
- The ability to find volunteers and talk to others setting up schools through our networking tools.
- A named personal NSN Adviser;
- A personalised support plan;
- Demand funding;
- Up to 6 hours of specialist meetings;
- Access to our program of workshops/events;
- Written feedback on draft applications;
- The option to apply for a mock interview; and
- Matchmaking with volunteers.
The universal service is available to anyone and is predominantly accessed through this website. To be placed on our development programme and receive bespoke support from an adviser groups must apply in one of the five rounds that we hold throughout the year.
How to apply for our Development Programme
Before applying to join our Development Programme we would recommend that you attend an "On The Road” event to find out more about Free Schools and/or have a 1:1 surgery with one of our advisers to discuss your proposals. However, this is not compulsory.
To apply to join the Development Programme your group will need to read our application criteria and complete an application form. These can be found here.
You should submit your application form in one of the 5 application rounds we will be holding over the course of the next year. In your application form you will need to specify which of the DfE’s application windows you intend to apply for. Groups who intend to apply to the DfE sooner will be asked to demonstrate more developed plans to reflect the shorter timescale they will have to complete a full application to open a Free School. Previous Development Programme members and successful Free School applicants who are opening a Free School which will be of the same age range and school type as their previous proposals should also complete a different form.
More information on which application form you need to fill in to work with us can be found here.
We would encourage groups to apply as soon as they are ready to. Applying will help you to focus on some of the key issues all Free School applicants must work through – and if you are unsuccessful you can reapply at a later stage. All groups will receive feedback on their plans when they apply to us, regardless of whether they are successful.
Once you have applied your application form will be assessed against our application criteria by our team. These criteria are based on our experience of what is needed to complete a successful application, and also NSN’s ability to support groups in a given timescale.
Please note that though we expect our Development Programme to provide groups with significant additional support, it is not linked to the DfE's assessment process in any way.