Opening an independent school

    The increasing demand for high-quality AP and SEND provision, coupled with the limited opportunities to open new academy class schools, means establishing an independent school may be the best way to meet local educational need.

    At PAG, we have directly supported the development of hundreds of new schools. Our deep understanding of the motives, stakeholders, and sequences of events that lead to successful growth has resulted in the successful development of trusts and schools across England.

    How to open an independent school

    Key considerations for establishing an independent school

    Establishing an independent school involves determining the availability of suitable students, assessing financial sustainability, and ensuring the necessary expertise and resources are in place.

    The process of setting up an independent school

    PAG works closely with each client to understand their unique context and priorities, creating a bespoke combination of services to support their journey. This typically involves a four-stage process:

    Feasibility study: We analyse market opportunities, conduct SWOT analyses, and provide go/no-go recommendations.

    Business case: We help in detailed financial and operational planning and explore funding options.

    Scoping and planning: We confirm timeline and funding, and assist in action planning and procurement.

    Managing the opening: We guide you through regulatory and legal establishment, marketing, recruitment, and refurbishment.

    Our MD, Tom Legge, recently spoke to Schools Week about our plans to
    revolutionise independent schools SEND provision by helping to provide the vital places needed.

    Case studies

    Establishing new special schools

    PAG worked with an existing school to form a new specialist SEND multi-academy trust, concurrently with successful applications to become an Academy Sponsor and to open a new SEMH school. Since the trust’s formation in 2019, PAG has worked with the trust to project manage the pre-opening of five new schools, including residential facilities.

    PAG continues to provide strategic advice and guidance to the trust’s leadership as it grows through a combination of sponsorship, conversion and new provision within the SEND and alternative provision sectors.

     Business planning for a therapeutic clinic 

    A small MAT identified an opportunity to offer their high-quality specialist services more broadly by establishing a therapeutic clinic. The intention was to provide high quality specialist services to support children with additional needs around speech and language, with future diversification into other interventions.  

    PAG was commissioned to conduct a feasibility analysis for the clinic. PAG assessed the drivers, vision, and priorities which would underpin its establishment, explored the size and nature of the market, and extrapolated learnings from existing players as well as opportunities for a new entrant. PAG then outlined the options appraisal of the underpinning structure. The trust went on to commission a business and implementation plan to open the clinic, following PAG’s recommendation. 

    Feasibility for new nurseries

    PAG conducted a feasibility analysis for a London borough seeking to establish, or support the establishment of, new nurseries and early years provision. Financial and market analysis was supplemented by in-depth research into what proved to be a complex legal and regulatory environment. A variety of political pressures factored into the analysis and into the reporting process. Although the result was a ‘no go’ decision from stakeholders, PAG was also able to recommend potential alternative avenues to achieve the aims underpinning the commission to meet the needs of the community. 

      We have proposed, opened, and acted as a DfE or new schools' network advisor for over


      free schools via DfE and LA competitions

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