Welcome to our new website on opening an independent school.
Opening a new school is a difficult and challenging task. We hope the website will provide you with the information you need to get started. It is important that you read each section carefully. Applications are not considered by the Department of Education if they are incomplete.
Do contact us should you have any questions about any part of the application process.
THE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL STANDARDS
THE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL STANDARDS
The Independent School Standards Schools must demonstrate their ability to meet the Independent School Standards (ISS). These are the requirements that school must meet in order to operate as an independent school. These can be found below:
The Education (Independent Schools Standards) Regulations 2014
Some of these standards were updated in January 2015. These changes can be found in the document below:
Revised independent school standards
Registration of independent schools
Schools must show how they will meet all the required standards:
• Quality of education provided
• Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of students
• Welfare, health and safety of students
• Suitability of staff, supply staff and proprietors
• Premises of and accommodation at schools
• Provision of information
• Manner in which complaints are handled
• Quality of leadership in and management of your school
INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS REGISTRATION
All schools must register with the Department for Education (DfE), the body responsible for children’s services and education, including early years, schools, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills in England, before running an independent school.
It is illegal to operate an unregistered school, without approval from the Secretary of State, if you provide full-time education to:
- 5 pupils or more of compulsory school age – this is from the school term after their 5th birthday and the last Friday in June in the year they turn 16
- 1 or more pupils of compulsory school age with an education, health and care (EHC) plan or statement of special educational needs (SEN).
- 1 or more pupils of compulsory school age who are looked-after by the local council
WHAT IS FULL TIME EDUCATION?
What is full-time education?
There is no legal definition of what constitutes full-time education.
An institution is considered to be providing full-time education if it is intended to provide, or does provide, all, or substantially all, of a child’s education.
Factors in determining whether education is full-time include:
- the number of hours per week that is provided – including breaks and independent study time;
- the number of weeks in the academic term/year the education is provided;
- the time of day it is provided;
- whether the education provision in practice precludes the possibility that full-time education could be provided elsewhere.
A school could be considered full-time if it was operating during the school day and for at least 18 hours a week. This is because the education being provided is taking up a substantial part of the week in which it can be reasonably expected to educate a child.
Oftsed, the inspectorate responsible for regulating schools on behalf of the Department for Education, may inspect unregistered independent schools should they feel organisations are providing substantially all of a child’s education.
For further information, see the following documents:
- Independent School Standards
- Independent schools: regulatory and enforcement action policy
- Prosecuting unregistered schools
- Unregistered independent schools and out of school settings
Schools that meet the criteria to operate as an independent school and have children registered at their school under the age of 5 must also demonstrate compliance of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Further information of the EYFS can be found in the section, Useful Documents.
An organisation that provides solely for students over compulsory school age does not need to register with the DfE as an independent school.
Some organisations which are within the further, or higher education sectors are not “schools” (see section 4 of the Education Act 1996), and therefore cannot be registered as independent schools – even if they have pupils of compulsory school age.
Schools that cater for pupils over the age of 16, as well as those of compulsory school age, and which meet the definition of an independent school, will be required to register and must be registered before admitting pupils.
The application form should be completed and returned on-line via GOV.UK.
Where an on-line application is not possible, the registration application form may be requested from and submitted to:
Applications with supporting evidence can be posted to:
The Independent Education and Boarding Team
Department for Education
Applicants are advised to submit all supporting documents electronically.
Ensure that proprietor(s) and the person(s) who will be responsible for the day-today operation of the school are present during the pre-registration inspection or at the very least, available to speak to the inspectors on the day of the inspection, to answer any questions they may have. Should this not be possible, inspectors may not have the evidence they need to conclude whether all of the relevant ISS (and applicable standards in the EYFS) are likely to be met.
The report inspectors produce is an integral part of the evidence for the DfE’s consideration of the application, which will only be approved if it can be concluded that all of the ISS are likely to be met once the school opens its doors to pupils.
A draft time-table of what can be expected can be found can be found below.
New school inspection draft timetable
Meeting at school site – Introduction and agree plan for the day
Discussion about the school context and plans for opening
Part 1 – Quality of education provided;
Part 2 – Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils
Curriculum policy, planning and schemes of work
Planning for careers information advice and guidance (secondary)
Promoting/developing pupils’ literacy (including reading) and numeracy
Developing pupils’ understanding of fundamental British values and the protected characteristics
Part 3 – Welfare, health and safety of pupils
Safeguarding policy, staff training, behaviour policy and proposed recording systems; anti-bullying policy and proposed recording systems and health and safety policy; evidence of compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005; first aid policy and proposed practice; proposed supervision arrangements; proposed procedures for admissions and attendance registers; risk assessment policy and examples of proposed risk assessments.
Part 4 – Suitability of staff, supply staff, and proprietors
SCR and related files
Safer recruitment checks and training
Part 5- Premises of and accommodation at schools
Part 6 – Provision of information, including accessibility plan (Schedule 10 of the Equality Act 2010)
Proposed arrangements for communicating with parents and carers. How will parents have access to key school documents: this includes Admissions Policy and Safeguarding Policy, reports on pupils’ progress and attainment and SEND provision
Part 7 – Manner in which complaints are handled
Part 8 – Quality of leadership and management of schools
Once the application is received, the DfE will carry out a number of checks on individuals who are named on the application form.
These checks will include due diligence checks along with any other checks that the DfE considers appropriate in order to enable it to decide whether all of the ISS (and where relevant, the EYFS) are likely to be met, including those in Part 4 of the ISS, which sets clear requirements regarding for the suitability of staff, supply staff and proprietors.
Suitability of Proprietors.
On receipt of your application, the Department for Education will write to you to check the suitability of individuals to be proprietors of individual schools.
- In order to check the suitability of the proprietor, the regulations require the following:
An enhanced criminal record check, countersigned by the Secretary of State
Checks confirming the individual’s identity and their right to work in the United Kingdom
If the individual is living, or has lived outside the United Kingdom, further checks as the Secretary of State considers appropriate
This will be done before the pre-registration inspection takes place.
LONG TERM PLANS
LONG TERM PLANS
Below are downloadable examples of Long Term Plans (LTP) that can be used in secondary settings.
For advice and support email: firstname.lastname@example.org