How We Work – Free Schools

Having already worked with main proposers across the entire spectrum of Free Schools, we are fully aware of the demands that are placed on Proposer groups – from the weight of expectation placed on Proposers by their communities, to the sheer volume of work that is required at each stage.

Place Group never loses sight of the fact that Proposers are giving their time and energy free of charge – to make a difference to the lives of children, young people and their communities. Our specialists are there to offer support, guidance and pragmatic options for you to consider, in order to make the process as smooth as possible and to ‘create time’ for you.

We do this by offering the following support, delivered by open and honest advisers who will work with you to achieve your goals, or explain why certain aspects are unattainable:

  • Development of a collaborative web portal for your organisation – including specific templates and processes which we have created, to assist you in building the proposal.
  • Creation and management of a detailed Project Plan, and recommendations on the way in which you should organise your internal resources, in order to assist you in achieving the objective.
  • A range of ‘scenario planning’ activities which will help you to clearly demonstrate the financial aspects of the proposal and to determine the school’s viability.
  • Assistance with the development of a communications plan to support the proposal, helping you to build and maintain local community support through public meetings and local media.
  • Creation of a comprehensive and credible Free School proposal, which will exceed the DfE’s updated requirements and accelerate you successfully through the approval process.

Starting the process
There are many ways in which Place’s Free School specialists can help you in developing your initial proposal for a new school opening. This support spans the full requirement of the new process – as well as other areas which we believe are crucial to opening a successful school and guaranteeing success in its formative years.

Having been responsible for producing the first Business Case to be signed off for a Free School back in 2011, Place has since worked on – and received DfE approval for – many more. Subsequently, we have supported a wide range of groups through the Free School Application Process, so you can be sure that we will be able to help you create a strong proposition that presents your vision in the best possible light and proceeds smoothly to Funding Agreement.

Establishing a vehicle to open your school
There is a requirement to have established a suitable Trust organisation before submitting a Free School proposal. We can help you with this in the following ways:

  • Advice and support in setting up a Trust (a company which is ‘limited by guarantee’) as the legal mechanism behind the school, and in controlling its assets.
  • Assistance in the process of making sure that the Memorandum and Articles of Association is approved by the DfE swiftly and without any issues.
  • Support in ensuring that the new Free School will meet all of the conditions of the DfE’s Funding Agreement for Free Schools.
  • Help and advice during the process of appointing the Governing Body – to ensure that this is an effective team, all of whom who have the necessary skills and experience required in order to achieve everything that your school has set out to do.

Brokering Support
Some Proposers are keen to explore how third-party organisations can help them to realise their Free School ambitions. This can range from specific assistance during the process, to a complete outsourcing of the running of the school. As an established name in the education sector, Place has excellent connections with a number of high quality organisations, ranging from Outstanding Schools and Academies through to School Business Management specialists and existing Academy Sponsors. We have also acted as advisor to many Free School groups to assess their needs, and to establish how they can engage with appropriate providers in a transparent procurement process.

To find out more about these services or for general advice, please email