New Schools

Since 2010 any new schools to be approved by the Department for Education (DfE) have either been academies, free schools, University Technical Colleges, and more recently a small number of Voluntary Aided schools. To open a new free school or academy a group must be approved as a ‘sponsor’ by the Department of Education (DfE). In the vast majority of cases the organisations opening such schools are Multi Academy Trusts (MATs).

What are free schools?

In 2010 the government announced plans to build new free schools around the country. Free schools are a type of academy funded by government, but they are not run by local councils. They are ‘all ability’ schools and are subject to the same School Admissions Code as all other State-funded schools. Like other types of academy, free schools are governed by non-profit making charitable trusts that sign funding agreements with the Secretary of State for Education.

The Diocese and Free Schools

In October 2016, the former Bishop of Norwich, The Rt Revd Graham James, sought opinions from across the Diocese on whether it should seek to open new schools. The overwhelming response was “yes”. Therefore, the aspiration to open new schools was incorporated into the Diocese of Norwich’s Education Strategy 2018-2023

The Diocese and its MATs will only submit applications where there is demonstrated need due to new housing and growth in pupil numbers.

Using the publicly available plans of Norfolk County Council the Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) has identified two areas where we would like to make applications. These areas have been chosen due to planned new housing growth and hence new primary schools are going to be needed in the foreseeable future.

The three areas are:

 

  • Wymondham
  • The North Norwich growth triangle, specifically the Salhouse Road development area
  • Cringleford

 

Opening a new free school is a competitive process with the DfE and its Regional Schools Commissioner as the decision maker.

We need your help

As part of the application process, the Diocese needs to demonstrate support for its plans and show that local residents and families would want their children to go to a Diocesan ‘sponsored’ (Church of England) school if one was available. Any new school will operate as our current schools and academies do – serving their local community and are for those of all faiths or none.

The level of local support will be a key factor that the Department for Education will be looking at in deciding whether to approve the application or not, and we need to be able to show this support when submitting our application.

If you agree with us that the Church of England should continue to be involved in education then please express your support by completing the short online survey for the area you live in or which is nearest to you.

In addition to completing the survey please ask others to do likewise e.g. parishioners, the PCC, your local parent and toddler group, messy church, local parents etc.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What options are there to open new state funded schools?

Since 2010 any new schools to be approved by the Department for Education have either been academies, free schools, University Technical Colleges, and more recently a small number of Voluntary Aided schools.

What are free schools?

In 2010 the government announced plans to build new free schools around the country. Free schools are a type of academy funded by government, but they are not run by local councils. They are ‘all ability’ schools and are subject to the same School Admissions Code as all other State-funded schools. Like other types of academy, free schools are governed by non-profit making charitable trusts that sign funding agreements with the Secretary of State for Education.

Who can set up a free school?

A free school can be set up by groups like Multi Academy Trusts (MATs), businesses, charities, community or faith groups, independent schools (private, fee-paying schools), parents, schools maintained by local authorities, teachers, universities. More recently, most new free schools have been set up by multi academy trusts who are approved as ‘sponsors’ by the Department for Education. The Diocese of Norwich has two such MATs.

How can you apply to open a free school?

Since 2010 the Department for Education has opened several application windows where interested parties can apply to open a new free school. These are called ‘Waves’ and successful applications in Wave 13 were announced in June 2019. We are awaiting the precise details for Wave 14, but it has already been announced that any applications will need to be submitted by 11 November 2019.

Why is the Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust / St Benet’s Multi Academy Trust applying to open a free school?

The Church of England has always been involved with education and started providing free education to local children over 200 years ago and 50 years before the state.

In 2013 the Diocese formed a Multi Academy Trust (the Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust) which now has thirty-four schools within it. In 2018 a second Multi Academy Trust was formed (the Diocese of Norwich St Benet’s MAT) and this now comprises five schools. This growth has allowed us to further develop our resources to support school improvement, governance and the distinctive nature of church schools.

We believe that our approach to running schools is not only successful in terms of academic standards but provides an all-round experience preparing children for their next steps in life. Our commitment to schooling based on the Christian values of service, love and valuing every individual as a child of God make our schools dynamic, exciting places to learn and grow where faith is taken seriously and all can flourish.

Who will run the new school?

The Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust / St Benet’s Multi Academy Trust is looking to submit an application to become a ‘sponsor’ or “education provider” of the new planned school.

Where will the new school be?

The Diocese and its MATs will only submit an application to open a free school where there is demonstrated need due to new housing and growth in pupil numbers. The decision on exactly where the new schools will be located rests with the Department for Education working with Norfolk County Council. Their decision is based on where there is need for more pupil places and they work with the housing developer to secure an appropriate site within new developments.

This application relates to:

 

  • Wymondham – Norfolk County Council have identified a site in the Silfield Road development area
  • North Norwich Growth triangle – Norfolk County Council have identified a site in the Salhouse Road development area

 

 

Who are the Diocese of Norwich?

The Diocese of Norwich is the Church of England across the areas of Norfolk and Waveney — a Christian presence serving every community through a family of 650 churches and 110 schools and academies.

The Diocese of Norwich serves over a hundred Church Schools and Academies – over a quarter of the primary schools in Norfolk and Waveney – and around 17,000 pupils. We work alongside headteachers and governors, helping them make their school an inspirational place to learn, with a Christian ethos.

Our spiritual and pastoral care extends to all parts of the community. We support children, young people and families through a wealth of resources – from mobile playgroups to youth work cafés. We also provide training and support for youth and family workers, and 1,800 volunteers who work alongside them.

When will you know if your bid for the new school has been successful?

We don’t know exactly yet as we are waiting for new guidance from the Department for Education on timescales. We are planning to have our application ready by the deadline date of the 11 November 2019. The decision as to whether we have been successful is likely to be in the spring term of 2020.

When will the new school open?

It takes a long time to build a new school and there are a number of administrative processes, such as planning permission, to complete. We think the very earliest a new primary school could open is September 2022, but that also depends on whether there are enough children in the area needing a school place at that time. The actual date has to be agreed with the Department for Education as part of the process.

How big will the schools be?

A new primary school will have two classes in each year group with a maximum of 30 children per class i.e. 60 pupils per year group. This means there is capacity for 420 pupils from reception to year 6. It is expected that the school will also have a 26 place nursery provision.

Can my child get a place at one of the new schools?

Admissions to any of the new schools has to follow the law, known as the Admissions Code of Practice. Any school run by the Diocese of Norwich would be open to children of all faith backgrounds and beliefs. Admissions processes will be run working closely with the Norfolk County Council admissions team.

Find out more about Church of England Schools in the Diocese

 

Show your support

We need your help

As part of the application process, the Diocese needs to demonstrate support for its plans and show that local residents and families would want their children to go to a Diocesan ‘sponsored’ (Church of England) school if one was available. Any new school will operate as our current schools and academies do – serving their local community and are for those of all faiths or none.

The level of local support will be a key factor that the Department for Education will be looking at in deciding whether to approve the application or not, and we need to be able to show this support when submitting our application.

If you agree with us that the Church of England should continue to be involved in education then please express your support by completing the short online survey for the area you live in or which is nearest to you.