Feedback from the DfE

Earlier in the year, the Lawrence Sheriff School Academy Trust decided to submit an application to sponsor a free school, The Sheriff School, in Nuneaton. Top of our reasons for submitting the bid was the desire to give pupils, parents and families in Nuneaton an opportunity to attend a school with the ethos and values of Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby. Although the school that we proposed was not selective, we were confident that we could still capture the distinctive ‘way that we do things around here’ in the free school that we proposed to open, not least because we had done something similar in a variety of different schools and settings over recent years.

The Department for Education (DfE) has now come back to us to say that they do not wish to take us up on our application.

The DfE’s concerns centred on what they felt was our failure to take ‘account of the difference between the existing cohort of pupils in Rugby and the community the school will serve in Nuneaton’. They suggested that our bid wrongly relied upon ‘an assumption that good teaching alone would be sufficient for pupils to meet high academic standards’.

The DfE goes on to argue that in the light of this our aspirations for pupils in Nuneaton were too high, questioning whether it was ‘realistic or deliverable’ to have a target that ‘85% of pupils achieve 5 or more grades 4 to 9 at GCSE’.

The DfE felt that the strong local support for our application arose only from ‘aspirational parents’. Equally, they argued that there was not ‘sufficient demand for the sixth form provision’ that the new school would provide.

We continue to feel that our high aspirations for pupils in Nuneaton were both realistic and achievable and that we were right to base them upon high quality teaching, but given the feedback from the DfE, we have no plans to resubmit our proposals. We would like to send our good wishes to the people of Nuneaton and say how sorry we are that we have not had the opportunity to work in partnership with them. Equally, we wish the DfE every success as they now seek to find an alternative provider more in tune with their vision and aspirations.

Lawrence Sheriff School Academy Trust

Disappointing news

We have received the disappointing news from the Department for Education (DfE) that The Sheriff School has not been selected to progress to the next stage of the free school process.

We submitted a strong application that was successful in the first stage of the selection process when we were shortlisted for interview earlier this year and we felt that our experienced proposer group, which includes governors and senior leaders at the high-achieving Lawrence Sheriff School which placed seventh in the country out of more than 3,200 secondary schools in 2013, responded well to robust questioning on all aspects of our proposals for The Sheriff School. We were also able to demonstrate a huge amount of support from communities in and around Nuneaton which makes the DfE’s decision all the more poignant at this final stage of the process and we are now reviewing feedback from the DfE, which will enable us to determine whether to resubmit the bid.

We hope that there will be a further opportunity to repay the faith shown by all those who expressed support for our plans by establishing an excellent secondary school to help meet the pressing need for additional, high-quality school places in Nuneaton, identified by the DfE as Priority District for free school applications.

Meanwhile, we are extremely grateful to all those who supported our proposal and expressed an interest in sending their children to the school, and if we submit a second proposal we will publicise this on this website and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Thank you.

The Sheriff School Team

One step closer!

We are delighted to let you know that the Department for Education (DfE) has invited us to meet with them to determine whether we will be given the green light to open The Sheriff School.

Being shortlisted for interview by the DfE is a major step forward for the project as it is the next stage of the process. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to discuss our plans in depth and demonstrate our vision, motivation, and ability to run a successful 11-18 secondary school in Nuneaton.

The final decision is expected in the spring and we will let you know as soon as we hear the outcome!

We are absolutely thrilled with the high level of support shown by the local community for The Sheriff School. As with successful applications for all new free schools, in order for us to be successful at the next stage, we will need to show that we have continued and growing support from parents and the wider community.

If you haven’t already done so, please complete the short form to help shape our vision for The Sheriff School to the needs and ambitions of the community it will serve.

You can also share your thoughts and suggestions by emailing us at

Thank you

The Sheriff School Team

Application submitted!

We are delighted to confirm that our application to open The Sheriff School has been submitted to the Department for Education.

We are now waiting to hear whether we have been shortlisted for an interview, which is the next stage of the process and an opportunity to discuss our proposal in depth.

We would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who has taken the time to give feedback on our plans and help shape the vision for the school. We’ll keep you updated!

The Sheriff School Team

Out and about in Nuneaton

Thank you to all the parents and members of the local community we have met in Nuneaton over the past few days. It has been great to share our plans for The Sheriff School with so many people who both recognise the need for a high-quality secondary school with a Mathematics and Computing specialism and like what we have to say about what we’re planning.

We’ll continue to be out and about in Nuneaton and the surrounding areas over the next few days sharing our plans for The Sheriff School ahead of submitting our application through the Department for Education’s Free Schools Programme early next month.

If you haven’t already done so, please complete the short form to help shape our vision for The Sheriff School to the needs and ambitions of the community it will serve.

You can also share your thoughts and suggestions by emailing us at

Thank you for your support.

The Sheriff School Team