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  • Writer's pictureCreate: Schools

A Year in Create: Schools

As 2023 draws to an end, this blog looks to reflect on some of the exciting work undertaken by the Create: Schools team throughout the year. Alongside the AP, SEND and Mainstream free school waves, the team have also worked to support applicants for various Local Authority (LA) competitions during 2023.

At the beginning of the year, the team was working closely with AP applicants to create high quality drafts. Create: Schools actively engaged with both LA and trust colleagues given the partnership nature of the AP application phase. Our team coordinated partnership workshops, through which we supported the strengthening of relationships between trusts and LAs to the benefit of collaborative working. Partnership workshops and bid reviews continued into February, where final applications were submitted.

March and April saw the kick off for the interview stage of the Mainstream free school wave. Our advisory team worked to provide tailored support through mock interviews to provide applicants with practice question and answer sessions.

As we moved into the summer term, the team began to work closely with LAs who were approved for new special schools in November last year. This entailed organising and delivering events online and in person, with our advisors travelling to provide support to applicants across England. The team travelled to 12 different LAs for in-person events, as well as delivering 29 online presentations. Alongside these events, applicants began to send their SEND drafts over to us for review prior to the August deadline, which Create: Schools worked to create comprehensive feedback on various areas to improve, conducting 134 reviews total for SEND applicants.

In June, the team hosted a series of webinars alongside various partners with expertise in capital, site and marketing, providing a well-rounded support service and set of resources to applicants. These recordings can be found on our website here.

Alongside our involvement in the SEND wave, June saw the commencement of the AP interview stage. The advisors replicated the mock interview service previously offered in the Mainstream wave. Questions were tailored to application content and Local Authority, in order to support those approved to the next stage of assessment. Work for the SEND and AP free school waves continued throughout July, coming to an end as we approached the SEND application deadline on 31st August.

Successful Mainstream wave applicants were announced publicly in August. These applicants ranged primary, secondary and post-16 provision – such as the proposed BRIT School North, the full list can be found here. Create: Schools are thrilled to have worked with over half of the approved schools through both bid reviews and mock interviews.

Another August announcement included the unveiling of 7 new special schools across 5 LAs through the Safety Valve programme: Cambridgeshire, Kent, Merton and Norfolk. Following the announcement, our team of advisors worked alongside the approved areas to deliver events to promote engagement, as well as supporting applicants through draft reviews and feedback. This support continued into November, with the final deadline passing.

Towards the end of the year, the team worked to prepare SEND applicants successful at the first stage of assessment for their DfE interview. With 33 schools to interview for, spanning across 30 LAs, we expect the SEND interview assessment stage to lead us into the new year.

Looking towards 2024, we can expect interviews for Safety Valve in January, as well as the announcement of approved APs and special free schools early in the year. Support from the advisory team will be available following updates on each wave – please get in touch with us here.

Reflecting on the past year shows us the scale of the exciting and rewarding work we do at Create: Schools, collaborating with experts across the education sector to provide high-quality education across the country.

Happy New Year from our team at Create: Schools! We look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead in 2024.


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