The Institute of Design, Space and Place (IDSP) at Manchester has won a place on a highly respected national development programme designed to provide tailored support for groups that want to set up new Free Schools.

Run by independent education charity the New Schools Network (NSN), the Development Programme provides personalised support to Free Schools groups as they prepare to submit an application to the Department for Education (DfE) to open a Free School from 2015.

The Institute of Design, Space and Place will be the UK’s first post-16 education centre for budding young professionals specialising in sustainable design, engineering and construction. Aiming to open in September 2016, this brand new concept has been established by the UK’s first social enterprise for built environment education, Class of Your Own (COYO).

COYO brings together education establishments, industry and young people from all backgrounds to create and deliver innovative learning programmes, accredited qualifications and employment opportunities.

The Institute of Design, Space and Place’s unique curriculum has been designed with leading industry experts. Instead of simply working to a traditional timetable, students can expect to benefit from extended periods of project-based learning, using problem-solving to explore and emphasise real-world applications of mathematical and scientific concepts. This will result in young people with recognised academic qualifications and valuable practical skills and experiences that universities and employers require.

Graduates of IDSP will be assured of unique learning and progression opportunities to highly regarded degree courses and higher level apprenticeships secured through strong local, national and international partnerships.

Natalie Evans, NSN’s Director, said:

“New Schools Network has supported hundreds of dedicated groups who want to set up Free Schools, supporting them as they prepare their applications to the DfE. The Development Programme provides intensive, bespoke support to groups that show particular promise and who are targeting pupils who need new schools the most.

“Free Schools have now established themselves on the educational landscape, fast becoming firm favourites with parents across the country. Almost 300 Free Schools have now either opened or been approved to open. Once all of these schools are full they will provide 150,000 badly needed new school places.

“Information from the Department for Education shows that on average last year, open Free Schools received three applications for every place. But the interest in setting up new schools continues to grow. Year on year, we have been very impressed by the calibre of the groups coming forward, all united in their commitment to create great new schools for local children.

“The Development Programme has been designed to help support each group in making their vision a reality, and I am delighted to be welcoming The Institute of Design, Space and Place at Manchester onto the programme. We look forward to working with them as they develop their plans in more detail and work with their local community to gather support for their proposed new school.”

The NSN Development Programme has been running for almost 3 years; So far more than 85% of applicants have been invited to interview with the DfE and 64% have been approved. The support to each group is tailored to their needs, but includes a dedicated NSN adviser, intensive educational, financial and operational advice, funding to support help them engage with their community and matchmaking to help them build their team. The total package of support is equivalent to around £10,000 per group.

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