FAQs - Why and what
We’ve changed our support for three main reasons.
First our Development Programme – which has been offering additional support to a small number of groups for two years – has been a huge success. We want to offer more groups extra, personalised support.
Unfortunately we don’t have the resources to offer this to everyone. We’re expanding it significantly – to 60-80 groups a year – but that is the limit of what we can staff and deliver.
Second we have now worked with over 1,000 groups over four application rounds - so we have significant experience of what you need to submit a successful application. This process is designed to test groups on the areas that are essential if you are going to open a great school.
Third, this gives us the opportunity to further strengthen our commitment to schools in areas of disadvantage – which we will prioritise through our Development Programme.
If you are successful you will get funding, specialist time and support, and significant amounts of project management support and advice from our team. 100% of those who have received this additional support in the past said it was helpful.
If you are not approved the first time, we will give you detailed feedback on where you need to improve to be successful with us and with the DfE. And you can always reapply for our support in a later application round.
Successful groups will get:
- A named, personal adviser at NSN who will put together a personalised support plan. You will agree with your adviser what you need to do and when;
- Up to 6 hours of time with our specialists who include former head teachers, school business managers, specialists in governance, SEN and Alternative Provision, and others;
- Up to £5000 of funding to help you gather evidence of demand;
- Detailed feedback on your application as you progress;
- A mock interview when you apply and feedback; and
- Targeted events including specialist surgeries and networking opportunities with applicants and open Free Schools.
We will also try to find people to help improve the capacity of your steering group – for example lawyers, marketing experts or educationalists.
Everyone, whether they are on the Development Programme or not, receives:
- A surgery with one of our advisers;
- Free access to our road shows across the country;
- Free access to our Free Schools Live! Event;
- Access to our online forums and matchmaking; and
- Access to all of our guidance and tools on our website.
You can also ask us any questions about your application by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get back to any enquiry within ten working days and usually within two working days.
We expect the funding to be used to help you demonstrate demand, market your school and engage with your community. Every group submits a budget, backed up by quotes, which we will need to approve. We will then pay suppliers directly on the receipt of invoices. We will also consider additional professional advice being funded through this as long as it is tied to a reputable company.
Unfortunately for legal reasons we cannot fund people’s time and work through this funding.
The vast majority of our services you are guaranteed. We cannot promise to find you the right person to boost the experience of your steering group – although we will try and we have a high success rate.
We may also not be able to offer you a mock interview if you do not sign up in time and there are too many groups who want this support. If you have already been through the process and had an interview from the DfE we will not offer you a mock interview – although we will give you advice on likely questions and how best to prepare.
Previous members of the Development Programme have already gone through the process of submitting a Development Programme application to the New Schools Network and, in some cases, an application to open a Free School to the DfE. Successful Free School applicants have already demonstrated that they can put together a high-quality application to the DfE.
We use a separate application to allow the NSN assessors to gauge whether these applicants, who are already very familiar with the DfE application process and who have demonstrated their potential to us in the past, would benefit from the services offered as part of the Development Programme in 2013.