Resources

Governance: Growing your MAT guidance

Establishing a strong governance structure in the pre-opening period is essential to the continued success of your MAT and of your free school. During pre-opening, you will need to submit a complete governance plan to the DfE for approval. If you run one or more academies already, this plan will need to include details of how you will manage the growth of your MAT. NSN has produced a guide on things you must consider when developing your governance as your MAT grows and as your free school opens.

Your group may benefit from more tailored advice from our governance associates, you may wish to consider the NSN Essentials Advisory Services or our Project Management Partnership. These services provide access to illustrations, exemplars and expert guidance developed to support school governance and the effective growth of MATs. 

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Project management tool (2018 opening)

Having strong project management is critical in ensuring all tasks in pre-opening are completed efficiently to allow your free school to open.  Your project manager needs to have a strong understanding of the various risks and tasks that your project will involve. An introduction to these is available from our opening tools. Based on vast experience and developed in line with the DfE’s pre-opening guidance, these tools will help you consider your project management tasks and schedules when preparing to open your free school.

If you are interested in working with NSN to deliver some or all of your project management, please contact open@newschoolsnetwork.org for more information on the Project Management Partnership.  

 

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Project management tool (2019 opening)

Having strong project management is critical in ensuring all tasks in pre-opening are completed efficiently to allow your free school to open.  Your project manager needs to have a strong understanding of the various risks and tasks that your project will involve. An introduction to these is available from our opening tools. Based on vast experience and developed in line with the DfE’s pre-opening guidance, these tools will help you consider your project management tasks and schedules when preparing to open your free school.

If you are interested in working with NSN to deliver some or all of your project management, please contact open@newschoolsnetwork.org for more information on the Project Management Partnership.  

Download

Sites and buildings: Finding a site - Introductory guidance

Many groups find that the process of securing a site and overseeing building and construction is the most stressful and time-consuming task of the pre-opening period. It is important that your group is aware of what your responsibilities around the site are in the pre-opening period. To allow you to do so, NSN has produced a guide explaining the entire process of finding a site, refurbishing or designing a build and working alongside the ESFA.  This resource should be read alongside NSN's Site and Buildings Guidance

NSN has designed the Site Advisory Service to assist groups in navigating the very complex issues associated with translating an educational vision into a school building that meets the needs of pupils and staff. This service includes very detailed resources that complement and supplement the support provided by the DfE and ESFA. 

 

 

 

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Sites and buildings: Site requirements 2 - Tool

This tool is the second in a set of three resources on site requirements comprising guidance, a tool and exemplar maps.  This tool should be developed with reference to each of these.

This tool is designed for use in both the application and pre-opening phases of the free school process. It may be submitted as an annex to the application as it should capture a group’s site requirements, support the ESFA in their decision making and improve the clarity of commissioning instructions given to LocatEd. In pre-opening, the tool should frame and focus a group’s thinking around site in preparation for their Site Kick-Off Meeting. 

NSN has designed the Site Advisory Service to assist groups in navigating the very complex issues associated with translating an educational vision into a school building that meets the needs of pupils and staff. This service includes very detailed resources that complement and supplement the support provided by the DfE and ESFA. 

Download

Student marketing and admissions: Marketing and communications guidance

A key task of the pre-opening period is recruiting your first cohort of pupils. Pupil recruitment affects almost every other aspect of your project: they determine your financial viability, your curriculum planning, and staff recruitment. Your group will need to work hard to ensure that you market your school effectively and accurately and NSN has produced some guidance about how you might do this.

During pre-opening, you will also need to develop an admissions policy and finalise your admissions arrangements. The DfE has produced several documents on various aspects of free school admissions and NSN has produced a comprehensive guide.

Ultimately, what works best will depend on your local circumstances and along with advice tailored to your needs, a range of best practice case studies, exemplars and tools are available through the NSN Essentials Advisory Service and Project Management Partnership. 

Download

Student marketing and admissions: Admissions guidance

A key task of the pre-opening period is recruiting your first cohort of pupils. Pupil recruitment affects almost every other aspect of your project: they determine your financial viability, your curriculum planning, and staff recruitment. Your group will need to work hard to ensure that you market your school effectively and accurately and NSN has produced some guidance about how you might do this.

During pre-opening, you will also need to develop an admissions policy and finalise your admissions arrangements. The DfE has produced several documents on various aspects of free school admissions and NSN has produced a comprehensive guide.

Ultimately, what works best will depend on your local circumstances and along with advice tailored to your needs, a range of best practice case studies, exemplars and tools are available through the NSN Essentials Advisory Service and Project Management Partnership. 

Download

Finance and procurement: Procurement guidance

As you enter the pre-opening period, you will receive a Project Development Grant (PDG) from the DfE designed to cover all non-capital costs associated with setting up your free school. You need to consider carefully how you will spend your money as efficiently as possible and to ensure the best value for money. Drawing on our associates’ expertise and previous free schools’ experience, we have put together a budgeting tool which will help you decide how to allocate your money according to different work streams. We have also put together some guidance around following public procurement regulations when spending your PDG.

The Essentials Advisory Service and the project management partnership take into account the fact that finance will have implications for the effectiveness of Delivery across all other work streams. The resources and tools that have been developed for these services have been designed to support schools to extract maximum value through careful financial planning.

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Finance and procurement: Pre-opening budget guidance

As you enter the pre-opening period, you will receive a Project Development Grant (PDG) from the DfE designed to cover all non-capital costs associated with setting up your free school. You need to consider carefully how you will spend your money as efficiently as possible and to ensure the best value for money. Drawing on our associates’ expertise and previous free schools’ experience, we have put together some guidance around following public procurement regulations when spending your PDG.

The Essentials Advisory Service and the project management partnership take into account the fact that finance will have implications for the effectiveness of Delivery across all other work streams. The resources and tools that have been developed for these services have been designed to support schools to extract maximum value through careful financial planning.

Download