Free Schools: How we can help

PAG provides a range of services to support free school applicants and providers, including application bid-writing, mock interviews, pre-opening project management and support converting to academy status.

Free School Applications

Premier Advisory Group has a market-leading track record in bidding for free schools on behalf of our clients. Recently, we have supported over 25 trusts with free school applications in Wave 14 of the mainstream process, Wave 2 of the SEND free school process, and various LA competitions. Our overall success rate in helping clients reach interview is over 90% to date and we can support you in submitting a high-quality application. Your application will be drafted by a team of professionals who between them have proposed, opened and acted as a DfE Assessor or New Schools’ Network (NSN) Advisor for over 150 free schools including a significant number of special schools.

Mock Interview Preparation

PAG offer a mock interview service to groups who have submitted applications to open free schools, either via the central route or any local authority presumption competitions. Our team have significant experience on both sides of the interview table and bring all our knowledge and experience to every mock interview we give. Our team will put you through a process which mirrors the free schools interview process. To follow on from the mock interview, we will conduct a review of the application and develop questions that will be asked in a face to face session with the trust team with feedback and coaching given.

Free School Project Management

At Premier Advisory Group we have a track record stretching back prior to the formation free schools programme. The schools we have helped to open span the range of provision from 4-19 and from mainstream to SEND, covering all points in between. For some we have worked from day one of their projects and for more experienced clients we’ve just provided expert input when required. Furthermore, we bring current experience in opening new schools as proposers and recent experience of having assessed free school applications from a DfE perspective. Click here to learn more about our pre-opening project management.

Academy Conversions

There is still the expectation that most schools will form or join multi academy trusts (MATs) so that proven educational models can spread and grow, and the best leaders can extend their influence by running multiple schools. We can work with you to convert to academy status and assist you in forming a MAT at each stage of the process, from preparation to opening as an academy and following the steps as required by the DfE.

Find below the updated list of local authorities seeking academy and free school proposers: 

Area Local Authority Phase/Age Range Mainstream/SEND/AP Closing Date for Application Specifications
Bungay Suffolk County Council 9-16 SEND – Complex Communication and Interaction Needs (CCIN) 03/04/2020 Click here 
Bury St Edmunds Suffolk County Council 9-16 SEND – Complex Social Emotional Mental Health 03/04/2020 Click here 
Castle Donington Leicestershire County Council Primary – 4 to 11 Mainstream 16/03/2020 Click here
Ashby Leicestershire County Council Primary – 4 to 11 Mainstream 16/03/2020 Click here

"Since 2015, Premier Advisory has been an energetic, trustworthy and reliable partner across a range of strategic projects. They helped move PACT from primary into secondary education with a successful free school application and assisted us in a number of successful bids from capacity grants to school improvement bids. This has assisted the continued development our trust. Through ongoing advice and guidance, PAG continues to help PACT deliver for the children in our care."

Sajid Gulzar OBE, Executive Headteacher and Chief Executive Officer at Prince Albert Community Trust