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Leadership webinar: the future for free schools (video and webchat)

Discussion in 'Senior Leadership Team' started by AndrewFIS, Nov 22, 2016.

  1. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Free schools: are they the answer to the shortage of future school places?

    As part of the TES Leadership webinar series, I’ll be putting your questions to Toby Young, journalist and incoming director of the New Schools Network.

    We will examine the ways in which he sees free schools as an important part of the landscape.

    Post your questions below now - and, if you can, join in our live webchat on December 8 at 4.30pm.

    Before that, you can watch a video we’ve made in which Toby and I discuss the issues, with key insight for school leaders.

    1920x1080-leadership-video-still-v2.jpg

    To access all the videos in the TES Leadership series, plus an exclusive database of grants available to schools, become a TES Leadership subscriber.
     
  2. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Hi,

    Don't forget to submit your questions below ahead of today's webchat.

    Thank you.
     
  3. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    The webinar video will be available for seven days in this thread. If you wish to view the webinar after 14th December or to access all the videos in the TES Leadership series, plus an exclusive database of grants available to schools, become a TES Leadership subscriber. You can find out more information here.
     
  4. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Good afternoon and welcome to today’s webchat.


    The TES Leadership webchats give you the opportunity to put your questions to industry experts about key school management and operational issues.

    In a few moments I will hand you over to Andrew, who is editor of FIS, who will be hosting this week's hour-long webchat.

    Andrew and this week's guest, leadership expert panel member Toby Young, journalist and incoming director of the New Schools Network, who will be available for the next hour to answer your questions.

    If you have any questions please submit them below. Don't worry if we run out of time, any unanswered questions will be responded to and posted on this thread later this week.

    I'll now hand you over to Andrew.





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  5. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Hello and welcome to this webchat on free schools. Joining me is Toby Young, journalist and the incoming director of the New Schools Network. For those of you following this thread, please feel free to post your query. Remember to refresh your page to see the updates as they appear.

    Thanks for joining us, Toby.

    Firstly, could you briefly outline the scope of your new role and how it fits with the government’s plan to expand the number of free schools?
     
  6. Toby_Young

    Toby_Young New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Thanks Andrew. It's a pleasure to be here.

    The New Schools Network (NSN) is a charity that aims to improve the quality of education in England by helping to get more free schools set up and, in particular, helping the Government meet its target of opening 500 new free schools in this Parliament.NSN has worked with more than 70% of the free schools that have opened or been approved to open to date. Our support is particularly critical for new entrants to the sector and for groups seeking to do something innovative or unusual – new providers working with NSN are 73% more likely to be approved than groups applying without our support. In all cases at the applicant stage, our role is to help groups navigate the complex and (rightly) challenging DfE application processes.
     
  7. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    What do you foresee as your biggest challenges when in post?
     
  8. Toby_Young

    Toby_Young New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    One thing I want to do is enlarge the team that works with groups that have already been approved and are working towards opening their doors for the first time, as well as free schools that are already open. I know from experience how much free schools can benefit from the advice of seasoned educational professionals in the first few years and I hope NSN can provide more of that.
     
  9. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    How does NSN currently support new free schools? Do you plan a different approach under your tenure?
     
  10. Toby_Young

    Toby_Young New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    NSN’s work is divided into three main areas. We have a campaigns team that tries to persuade as many different people as possible to think about setting up free schools – there’s a very successful campaign running at the moment aimed at teachers who want to set up their dream schools (click here if you want us to send you some info about that). Then we have a ‘pre-open’ and ‘open’ schools team, which I’d like to see grow. Finally, we have an advisory team – the largest of the three teams – that helps proposer groups navigate the application process. We call them "the A Team".
     
  11. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    What types of expertise does a new free school need to demonstrate it has in order to be approved by the DfE?
     
  12. Toby_Young

    Toby_Young New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    First and foremost it has to demonstrate that it has the educational capacity and rigour to set up a great school, so educational expertise is an absolute must. Next in importance is having strong financial and governance expertise. It’s also helpful to have good HR and legal know-how, and it doesn’t hurt to have some knowledge of property and ICT. Lastly, having people who can help market your new school is fundamental – there’s no point in setting up a great new school if no families know about it!
     
  13. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Will you seek to have NSN as an approving body for new free schools?
     
  14. Toby_Young

    Toby_Young New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    No. I think it would be difficult for NSN to have any formal involvement in approving new schools as we would be accused of being biased in favour of those groups we’ve been helping, particularly those in our Development Programme where we offer one-on-one support.
     
  15. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    On average, how long does it take to set up a free school?
     
  16. Toby_Young

    Toby_Young New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    It took my group two years and that’s about the quickest you can do it. Some take longer.
     
  17. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Figures from the DfE published in early November indicate that nearly £2 million has been spent on free schools that have failed to open since 2011. How do you respond?
     
  18. Toby_Young

    Toby_Young New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Sadly, not all schools ends up opening for a variety of unforeseeable reasons. However, if you compare the free schools programme to the other recent school building programme (Building Schools for the Future, for instance, which I wrote about here) it’s pretty clear that free schools are the most cost-effective way of establishing new schools.
     
  19. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    How can NSN help to avoid this from happening?
     
  20. Toby_Young

    Toby_Young New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    NSN is extremely circumspect about which groups it takes forward on to its Development Programme and if we think a group lacks the capacity to open a school we’re not shy about telling them that. The Department for Education has recently adjusted the rules, making it harder for free schools to open in temporary sites if they don’t have a permanent site lined up, and that should reduce the wastage.
     

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