Special Free School

Special Free School for Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) Needs

Cornwall Council’s bid to establish a new special school for children with special educational needs (SEN) has been successful. As part of a national initiative with the Department for Education (DfE) this will increase the range of education provision in Cornwall.

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We are now inviting potential partners to apply to deliver the Special Free School for SEMH. Applications must be in by midday 30 September 2019. The providers will then be assessed by the Secretary of State and it is anticipated that a successful provider will be announced early 2020.

The earliest anticipated opening for this new school will be September 2021. This date is dependant on a number of external factors and could change. 

Cornwall Council Special Free School Specification

The special free school will provide 65 places for children, aged from 5 to 16,  who have Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs and education, health and care (EHC) plans.

Our new special school will make a significant contribution to Cornwall’s Local Offer for children and young people with a high level of SEMH needs.

Download the Cornwall Council Special Free School Specification

Download the Proposed Location Map

This document sets out key information about the school that Cornwall Council will be establishing alongside the Department for Education.  Interested parties should use the information within this document, alongside the engagement event, to determine whether they would like to apply to open the school. Applications must relate to this specification.

Proposer Engagement Event 1 May

All interested parties were invited to a stakeholder engagement event, which took place on Wednesday 1 May 2019 at the Royal Cornwall County Showground, Wadebridge, PL27 7JE.

During the event further information on the proposed school and the application process was shared. We set out our expectations of close partnership working with the successful proposer and there was also the opportunity to discuss any questions. Representatives of Cornwall Council and the New Schools Network attended at the event.

Download the Engagement Event Presentation

Download the Question and Answers raised during this event. 

Family Engagement Event 18 June

We worked with Parent Carer Cornwall to host an engagement event on 18 June 2019 at St Austell Conference Centre. This event gave proposers and families a chance to talk about the prospective new Special Free School for SEMH.  

Download the Engagement Event Presentation

Survey for Parents and Carers

Parents and carers were asked for their views via an online feedback survey. This gave families the opportunity to tell potential delivery partners what is the most important thing to consider when planning and developing the new school for SEMH. The feedback survey is now closed.  

Download the Survey Results

Application Details

The deadline for applications is midday Monday 30 September 2019.

The How to Apply Guide and application form can be found on the Department for Education’s Website.

The ‘how to apply’ guidance explains the criteria that all applications will be assessed against.

The Department for Education will invite proposer groups with the strongest applications to interview.

Final approval of successful trusts lies with the Secretary State.

The New Schools Network (NSN)

Contact the New Schools Network if you need more advice on how to set up a free school.

The New Schools Network (NSN) receives a grant from the Department for Education to provide free advice, guidance and resources to those applying to open free schools. In the first wave of SEN free schools, NSN supported 11 out of 14 successful groups via their Development Programme. NSN is reaching out to encourage and support strong education providers to submit applications.

NSN offers advice and guidance about the process. Applicants can register for a 1-1 meeting with an Adviser or get in touch with their team by emailing info@newschoolsnetwork.org. They also offer a bespoke package of support called the Development Programme. To enrol on the Development Programme groups must apply via their website. Potential applicants are encouraged to get in touch with the NSN about the support on offer.

For More Information

Please contact Julie LeMasurier, Head of SEN, or Sharon Hindley, Head of School Access and Sufficiency, for more information or email specialschool@cornwall.gov.uk 

More information on opening a free school is available on the Department for Education Website.