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WELCOME TO PREMIER NEW SCHOOLS
“PREMIER NEW SCHOOLS WAS ESTABLISHED BY A TEAM OF PROFESSIONALS WHO BETWEEN THEM HAVE SUCCESSFULLY ADVISED ON OVER 200 NEW SCHOOLS AND ACADEMIES. FROM PRE-BUILDING SCHOOLS FOR THE FUTURE, THROUGH SPONSORED AND CONVERTER ACADEMIES TO FREE SCHOOLS OF ALL TYPES, WE HAVE THE PASSION AND EXPERTISE TO HELP SCHOOLS ESTABLISH, GROW AND IMPROVE”. Tom Legge, Founding Director
Welcome to Premier New Schools. PNS was formed by a group of professionals who between them have successfully opened schools in every round of the free school application process and advised on over 200 schools from prior to Building Schools for the Future to the most recent academy sponsorship and converter academies.
We set up PNS specifically to provide a seamless service to schools and Trusts at any point of their journey, from page 1 of a free school application to managing the improvement requirements of an academy or maintained school in difficulties. You are unlikely to find a more complete team to support you. Whatever your position and whatever challenges you are facing, you can be assured that one of our team will have faced it before and devised a high-quality solution. You will certainly not find an organisation that matches our passion, creativity and commitment to the schools sector.
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FREE SCHOOL PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Premier New Schools brings together a team with unparalleled experience and success in opening new schools. With a track record stretching back to before the formation of the free schools movement, there is not a school we have worked on that has not been graded Good or Outstanding at its first Ofsted inspection. These schools span the range of provision from 4-19 and from mainstream to SEN, covering all points in between. For some we have worked from day one of their projects, for more experienced proposers we’ve just ‘ridden shotgun’ to give expert input when required.
Furthermore, we bring to bear current experience in opening free schools as proposers and recent experience of having assessed free school applications from a DfE perspective. Rest assured, whatever your school and whatever your needs, you could not be in better hands. Click here for further information.
The passion and drive for improved outcomes is a common thread across all our clients and all our projects. Whether this takes the form of specific deliverables in a free school project, educational due diligence before an academy conversion or a school improvement strategy for a multi-academy Trust in difficulties, Premier New Schools tackles each challenge with the same eye for detail and drive for quality.
Whatever your situation and challenges, we will have faced and overcome it before. That said, our advice and guidance will be specific to you and your context and always focused on measurable outcomes across an agreed time period. Click here for further information.
BID WRITING AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
We have been involved in authoring free school applications since prior to the establishment of the free school programme. One of our Founding Directors was part of a team that produced the very first application to reach the then minister’s desk, the day after the 2011 general election.
Since this point, we have worked with in excess of 100 groups with services ranging from simply answering a few questions over the phone, to a strategy for establishing excellence hubs over multiple locations. Our heritage in technical writing ensures that every success criteria is met while our education and political acumen ensure that all our work is aligned with current policy thinking or makes a clear case as to why it is not!
No free school application will succeed if the plan is not needed. Working with Premier New Schools means that you are accessing the expertise that has proven and collected the documentary evidence that has supported over 5o successful free school applications. No organisation at work today can offer this reach and expertise. Click here for further information.
FINANCIAL HEALTH CHECKS
As MAT trustees and advisers to schools, academies, and trusts, we have significant experience of undertaking reviews of financial structures and capability and capacity taking account of key issues such as budget management, financial strategy, reporting and governance, capacity building, and curriculum led financial planning. Click here for further information
ACADEMY DUE DILIGENCE
The continuing expansion of the academies programme alongside the introduction of the category of ‘coasting schools’, as described in the Education and Adoption Bill, will strengthen and likely accelerate the growth in the number and breadth of multi-academy Trusts (MATs). The consequent growth in the number of sponsored and converter academies will continue to be served by a ‘micro industry’ of lawyers and consultants who can add expertise and capacity to schools. MATs, sometimes feeling under pressure to encourage other schools to join the MAT, have had in the past to accept a great deal at face value and on numerous occasions, this has had serious financial or educational consequences for the MAT. Click here for further information.
ACADEMY CONVERSION SERVICES
If your first thought when pursuing academy conversion is to call a lawyer or an accountant, you are probably starting from the wrong place. Academy conversion should have school improvement at its heart. While legal and commercial considerations are important, they are but functions of a process that should aim to deliver much more than a change in status and accounting year. Click here for further information.
While there is a natural and important focus on work at a school level, this sometimes distracts from the strategic work of the school, Trust or multi-academy Trust. With the increased scrutiny on governance, having a clear plan at board level is more important that it has ever been. We will work with you to ensure that the objectives at all levels of your organisation are aligned and drive improvement in outcomes. Click here for further information.
WHO WE AREMore about PNS
Tom Legge, Founder
Tom is one of the most experienced and respected professionals working in the free schools programme. Since 2011 when he led a team that produced the first free school proposal to arrive on the minister’s desk, he has successfully opened multiple free schools in each wave. Every one of the free schools Tom has worked on has been graded either Good or Outstanding at its first Ofsted inspection. In personally delivering over 40 free schools, Tom has gained experience across 0-19 mainstream, AP and SEN schools.
Tom is also a successful free school proposer in his own right and currently sits on the board of a multi-academy Trust.
Keith Warburton, Founder
Keith is a highly experienced education consultant with a track record spanning Early Years to Higher Education. He has worked as an education adviser/consultant with a large number of schools, academies and local authorities and been praised for the clarity of his advice and his attention to detail.
Keith has also been adviser to the Department for Education, focusing on free schools and academy brokerage. Prior to this, as Principal Lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton, Keith’s teaching and research interests were focused on those relating to children and young people with SEND.
Charlotte Pearce Cornish, Client Director
Charlotte heads up our project and client relationship management.
She has extensive knowledge from her previous advisory role at New Schools Network, where she worked directly with 150 academy trusts across all phases and specialisms, including those looking to establish and grow during the height of the expansion of the academies programme. Charlotte maintains close relationships with the Education Funding Agency through ongoing strategic advisory work in capital programmes.
As a former independent education consultant and in-house project manager for a multi-academy trust, Charlotte has also gained comprehensive knowledge and experience of the establishment and expansion of multi-academy trusts, supporting the ‘re-brokering’ of academy relationships.
Gavin Shepherd, Researcher
Gavin has a passion for research and has demonstrated this throughout his strong academic background. Graduating from the University of Aberdeen, he showed his clear intention to work within a research framework with his completion of a two-year Masters degree from the University of Copenhagen.
Gavin’s experience of the education sector is twofold. He has gained first-hand experience of what it takes to open a school, having worked in a small multi-academy trust. Having also worked at school level, he is keenly aware that the work never stops and there are always new issues arising which often need charismatic solutions that are tailored to the particular scenario.
Premier New Schools’ model is a simple one. We will keep a small core team of Directors and education specialists, each of whom will take ownership of their area of expertise. To add additional expertise to our capacity if needed, we will call on a pre-selected group of approved Associate Directors, each of whom has been personally vetted by one of the Founding Directors. Quality of delivery is critical for any organisation and is at the heart of ours. A huge majority of our work is gained from personal recommendations and everyone who works with us is held to the highest of standards.
Bureaucracy, stakeholder management and site issues are
the areas that hold most fear for free school proposers.
SECURING A SITE AND BUILDING THE SCHOOL
What is the biggest barrier you see to opening successfully?
SOMEONE EXPERIENCED TO NAVIGATE US THROUGH THE PROCESS
How will you seek to build capacity in your team if you are approved?
UNSURE OF ALL STAKEHOLDERS AND APPROACH TO MANAGING THEM
Who are your major stakeholders and are you aware how best to manage them?
WILL WAIT FOR THE OUTCOME OF OUR FIRST/CURRENT SCHOOL BID
If you have expansion plans, what do they depend upon?
“Premier New Schools took away the pain of the application process. We had clear ideas and PNS shaped them into a coherent bid, providing challenge and adding value at every turn.” 16-19 Free School Proposer
OUR LATEST PROJECTS
- Plotting growth for local provider
- Securing a local partner for a free school
- Establishing a nursery partner for a multi-academy Trust
- Efficiency review – small chain