FAQs | newschoolsnetwork.org


Want to know more about the NSN Delivery Programme? We've answered some frequently asked questions here. 

Why should I choose New Schools Network?

Since 2009, NSN has been the voice of free schools. NSN has worked with over 70% of open free schools nationwide, encompassing every type and provision.

Our range of experience and skills is unrivalled. Through our network of specialists and associates – who themselves have opened, advised and worked in free schools – and our knowledge, experience and network, we are the organisation best positioned to help make the pre-opening process a success.    

Why is your support free during the application stage?

As an independent charity, our aim is to ensure there is a good school for every child. As groups voluntarily spend their time working on a free school application, up to the point of approval, all of our support is free of charge. We have the knowledge, experience and expertise to support proposer groups submit a high-quality application to the DfE – groups on the NSN Development Programme are 50% more likely to be approved.  As free school numbers continue to grow and we remain committed to supporting all free schools, we offer some services to groups in pre-opening for free, such as our diagnostic Launch Assessment tool and the NSN Foundation Service.

The DfE give a Project Development Grant (PDG) to assist groups as they navigate the complexities and challenges of the pre-opening process. The PDG acknowledges the demands groups face during the pre-opening phase, particularly when their capacity is limited through other commitments. Developed to complement support from the DfE, ESFA and LocatEd, we offer a select number of groups in pre-opening the chance to purchase additional guidance through our other services – NSN Site Advisory Service, NSN Essentials Advisory Service and NSN Project Management Partnership.

How do I decide what level of support I need?

The NSN Delivery Programme offers different levels of support. All groups in pre-opening can access our core NSN Foundation Service. Groups should complete our Launch Assessment diagnostic tool free of charge, to analyse their readiness for the pre-opening process. By completing the Launch Assessment groups will receive a capability and capacity analysis to help determine how their existing skills, capacity and experience can be supported.

Groups who identify a need for further external support by completing the Launch Assessment may want to discuss access to our paid-for services. These exclusive packages of tailored support will be offered to a small number of groups, based on their requirements and approach.

Can I tailor the packages to my own needs?

The NSN Delivery Programme has been developed over three years by experienced NSN Advisers and Project Managers, our network of external Specialists and Associates, as well as existing free school leaders. All of our support builds on the guidance you will receive from the DfE, ESFA and LocatEd, and has been developed in consultation with these key stakeholders.

As such, each NSN pre-opening service covers the necessary, core needs groups will have in different areas, for example project management. Each package offered through the NSN Delivery Programme helps you to navigate the breadth and depth of the issues you will face in pre-opening.

In order to tailor these core offerings to the needs of each free school project, optional bolt-on services can be purchased and the facility to build further access to NSN Project Managers and Associates into individual packages. For example, the NSN Project Management Partnership – split into two phases – can be complimented by additional bolt-on project management services, depending on the needs of the individual project. 

Why is the Delivery Programme exclusive?

Having worked with over 70% of open and approved free schools, NSN is in a unique position to offer the support and guidance necessary. Our experience is unrivalled by any other organisation.

To ensure we are working with groups who will most value our support, we work only with a select number whose requirements and approach will benefit most from the NSN Delivery Programme. This also allows our team of NSN Project Managers to provide high-quality support by working only with a small number of groups.

All groups in pre-opening can access the NSN Foundation Service, as well as our Launch Assessment diagnostic tool.

What experience do you have of supporting groups in the pre-opening process?

NSN has worked with over 70% of open and approved free schools, throughout the application, pre-opening and open phases. We have experience of providing advice and support to open free schools on all areas of pre-opening, such as governance, curriculum, finance and media. As the number of free schools continues to grow, we have refined our support services - the NSN Delivery Programme is the result of this expertise and experience.

NSN Advisers and Associates have worked on over 500 free school projects – ranging from supporting groups in the pre-opening phase, to setting up and working in free schools. As the leading voice for free schools, our network of open schools and schools approved to open is unmatched by any other organisation.