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Apply to open our new special free schools

Norfolk is embarking on an exciting and ambitious transformation of SEND locally.

As part of this, we are opening up to four new special schools in Norfolk. One of these schools is being established under the Department for Education (DfE) national special and AP free school wave. Other schools are being established using the local authority presumption route.  

If you are an existing or potential approved academy sponsor, you can find out more about our schools and how to apply below.

New autism/ complex communication and interaction needs free school

We are inviting strong, inclusive academy sponsors to apply to operate a new all-through special free school for children with complex special educational needs, with a primary need of autism or complex communication and interaction needs. This school will be located in Fakenham, Norfolk.

This school is being established under a local authority presumption process. Further details are set out in the following documents:

An information event for potential sponsors was held on 23 September 2019.  

How to submit your application and timescales

The deadline for sponsors to submit their applications is 11 November 2019, by 12 noon. Complete the application form (Word document). Email it to schoolreview@norfolk.gov.uk. (Proposers must be DfE approved sponsors.)

We will send details of all applications to the DfE by 18 November 2019. The initial assessment of applications will take place in January 2020.

The process

By 18 November 2019, Norfolk County Council will have sent details of all applications to DfE to seek their views.

A Norfolk County Council Panel will undertake the initial assessment of all applications with the Regional School Commissioner (RSC) week beginning 6 January 2019 and then interview shortlisted applicants week beginning 3 February 2020.

By 12 March 2020, Norfolk County Council will have made a recommendation and referral of named preferred bidder to DfE (RSC) and a decision will be made by the Secretary of State (RSC) by end of April 2020. 

Special free school - cognition and learning

We invited strong, inclusive academy sponsors to apply to operate a new, all-through special free school for children with complex special educational needs. The school will be for 170 learners with a primary need of cognition and learning, ranging from moderate to severe and, in some cases, profound and multiple. The school will include a specialist unit for learners with autism, learning difficulties and challenging behaviour.

We held an Information event for potential sponsors on 11 June which was well attended.

The deadline for applications has now passed.

Interviews for successful sponsors will start in autumn 2019 with approved applications being announced winter 2019/20.

New social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) free school

We invited applications to sponsor a new special free school for learners with complex emotional, social and mental health difficulties in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

The deadline for sponsors to submit their applications has now passed.

We held an Information event for potential sponsors on 11 June which was well attended.

The initial assessment of applications took place in September and shortlisted applicants were invited to interview at the end of September. The recommended bidder will be notified to the DfE by 4 October 2019.

The DfE will make the final decision by 18 November 2019.

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