Under current Government rules, any proposed new school must be established as a free school/academy. Information for potential sponsors of new Free Schools is included within this section.

Where a local authority thinks a new school needs to be established, section 6A of EIA 2006 places the local authority under a duty to seek proposals to establish an academy (free school) and to specify a date by which proposals must be submitted to the local authority.

The local authority should take all necessary steps to ensure that the widest possible range of groups or organisations that might be interested in establishing the new school are aware of the opportunity to do so and have sufficient time to develop proposals. Local good or outstanding schools that are interested in submitting a proposal to run a new school will need to have or acquire both academy status and sponsor approval.

With this in mind Sunderland City Council is currently seeking proposals from groups or organisations to sponsor a new all through special school for children with autism. Further information is included within the specification below. Any interested groups or organisations must submit completed applications to Sunderland City Council no later than 5pm on 24 November 2017.

School Specification

The School Specification identifies the key details of the new school. Any proposer must ensure that these characteristics are fully represented within their application

Special Free School Pre- Application Registration

Applicants must register their interest to open a free school ahead of submitting their application.  The required pre-registration form can be found here.

Application Forms and Guidance

Special Free Schools Application and Criteria

Special Free School - Application Form Part 1

Special Free School - Application Form Part 2

Completed  applications must be submitted by midday on 24 November 2017.  You need to submit one copy of your application by email to Sunderland City Council at specialfreeschool@sunderland.gov.uk and one to FreeSchool.SPECIAL@education.gov.uk. No deadline extensions will be granted. 

The size of your email should not exceed 9MB as anything larger will not be delivered. If the application is larger than 9MB, please split the documents and send 2 (or more) emails. 

Please title your email : Special free school application - [insert free school name].

In addition, send one hard copy by a guaranteed delivery method (applications may be hand delivered) to Sunderland City Council at the address provided in the school specification; and two hard copies to the Department for Education at:

Special Free Schools Team, Department for Education, Piccadilly Gate, Store Street, Manchester, M1 2WD

For further information contact Alan Rowan, Sunderland City Council on 0191 561 1372 or email alan.rowan@sunderland.gov.uk.

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