Frequently asked questions on the application process, funding, sites, support and what the requirements of the process are.
The Department has released the details of the application process for setting up a Studio School in September 2014 so that groups have sufficient time to work on their proposals before the application deadline.
Completed applications for the 2014 wave of Studio Schools must be submitted between 9.00am on Monday 17 December and 5.00pm Friday on 4 January 2013. Only applications submitted to the Department within this period will be considered.
This application process is for those wanting to set up a school which will open in 2014. We will consider 2015 applications, but in these cases we will only approve applications that make a strong case for the need for an extended lead time.
Yes - if there is sufficient evidence of demand from employers, parents and young people to set up more than one Studio School and the proposers can demonstrate that they have sufficient capacity to deliver.
Applicants wanting to open more than one school will need to submit separate applications for each school they want to open, and each proposal will be assessed on its own merits.
If you have applied previously you should reflect on the feedback you received and how it might apply to the criteria included in the 2014 application guidance.
This is a competitive process, however, and even if the feedback stated that a particular element of your proposal was strong, you may still need to build on and develop your plans in this area before submitting a new application before 5.00pm on 4 January 2013.
No, although you should continue to develop your plans. Applicants that are called for an interview will be given the opportunity to provide additional information, but you should not submit it unless specifically requested by the Department for Education.
We will let applicants know the outcome of their application in spring 2013.
No. Applicants will be contacted if there is any news about their application. You should only contact the Department if you submit a proposal by 5.00pm on 4 January 2013, and do not receive an acknowledgement of receipt soon afterwards.
Each application will be considered both on its individual merits and in comparison to other applications that have been submitted. They will be assessed against the criteria in the application guidance and a range of other contextual factors as outlined in the guidance.
Shortlisted applicants will be called for an interview to discuss aspects of their proposal. Interview panels will consist of Department for Education officials, education advisers and financial and premises experts. Being invited to interview does not guarantee that an application will ultimately be successful.
We will endeavour to let groups know whether they will be called for an interview as soon as possible. We will confirm the likely timetable for interviews when we acknowledge applications in February.
Applications are invited from groups where they have identified evidence of demand from parents, young people and employers. Applicants could include teachers, charities, community groups, employers and other existing educational providers – such as an Academy Trust, Further Education College or training provider. We welcome proposals from all interested parties; however the capability and capacity of sponsors will be key criteria in the assessment of applications.
No, Studio Schools will be brand new provision and are free standing institutions for 14- to 19-year-olds. Studio Schools are not suitable as a replacement for mainstream provision, due to their small size (around 300 pupils) and other characteristics such as their focus on project-based learning and enterprise, a personal coach and work opportunities for every student.
No, but it would strengthen your application if you have identified at least one potentially feasible site for your school for us to consider. If you have identified a site, it would be helpful if you included details of ownership of the site, its availability, its size and any work that may be required to make the site fit for purpose as a school in your application.
You are not required to enter into any negotiations for sites and should not do so if you expect the Government to fund the acquisition of your site.
The Education and Funding Agency may be able to help you look for sites. You can contact them by email: FreeSchools.EFAcapital@education.gsi.gov.uk
When looking for potential sites, we encourage you to consider surplus or under-utilised government and other public buildings. A wide range of public buildings could provide suitable accommodation for a Studio School, and we have carried out detailed assessments of several of these sites. You may also find the Free Schools Kit a helpful tool which will help you in your search. You can link to further information from the 'articles' section of this page.
Not financial support, no. Our experience this year shows that the strongest groups have the capacity to prepare strong applications by themselves. However advice and guidance is available from the Studio Schools Trust (www.studioschoolstrust.org).
Yes. In order to judge the capacity and capability of the applicants as part of the assessment process we need to be clear that applicants have duly considered who should be involved in the establishment and running of the school. If you already have an academy trust, you can apply using your existing company number.
Applicants should set up a company limited by guarantee using the model Memorandum and Articles of Association which can be found on our website. Whilst these are legal documents, and you should take care to ensure that you understand your obligations under them, they are relatively straightforward to complete. Once you have done this, you can register your company limited by guarantee online.
No. Any group that is able to successfully establish and manage a school will not find it difficult to set up a company limited by guarantee. The Department will not be offering support to groups to do this.
No. However, you may find it helpful to discuss your application with your local authority, as they have an important strategic role as champions of all parents in their area and of educational excellence. They can provide an important resource of skill and experience to help facilitate groups wanting to set up a Studio School.
The Department will talk to them about your application, so we fully understand the local context and circumstances, and the Secretary of State will consider this information when taking a final decision on whether to enter into a funding agreement with the group setting up the Studio School.
No. What you do need to show is demand from parents, young people and employers and the local community for a Studio School which would offer a learning experience rooted in project based learning, and a focus on employability skills – not just a new school.