Premier Advisory Group appointed by DfE as official adviser for free school proposers

Premier Advisory Group (PAG) has been appointed by the Department for Education as sole supplier of free school application support. The contract starts on 1st April 2022 and is for up to three years.


PAG takes over from New Schools Network (NSN), which had previously provided this service for over a decade. We would like to thank NSN for its outstanding contribution to the flagship free schools programme.


The free schools programme remains at the forefront of the Government’s plans to level up standards across England and respond where there is demand for more school places. Since its inception in 2010, the programme has delivered hundreds of new schools and thousands of school places up and down the country.


The next year will see new special and Alternative Provision (AP) schools application waves as a direct result of additional Government funding, as well as plans to invest in both Education Investment Areas and other areas of need with mainstream, special and AP schools.


Commenting on the appointment, Tom Legge, Managing Director of Premier Advisory Group, said:


“We are delighted to be entrusted with the role of advising organisations and individuals on submitting bids to open more great schools.


“I remember attending a free schools event and being inspired by Rachel Wolf and her passion for the free schools movement. Over a decade later I’m as enthusiastic and supportive of the programme as ever and it’s an honour that PAG has been selected to carry on the excellent work of New Schools Network at a time of huge challenge and opportunity for the sector.”


Delivery of the contract will be led by Charlotte Pearce Cornish, PAG’s Director. Speaking about her forthcoming role, Charlotte said:


“While the policy is now over a decade old, there is still a lot of unfinished business for the programme, most notably in Alternative Provision – a particular passion of mine – but also across all types of school. We are very much looking forward to getting started and to supporting and advising proposers to set up the very best new schools so they can provide the first-class education places that children and young people deserve.


“I feel like I have come full circle. I started my career with NSN and was heavily involved in setting up their Development Programme and supporting the first waves of Special and AP Free Schools in 2011 and 2012. Since then, there has not been a day that I have not been involved in some way or another with the free schools programme.”


About Premier Advisory Group

  • Premier Advisory Group is a multi-disciplinary professional services firm with a specialism in education consultancy and related areas. Our clients want to navigate complex environments, solve difficult problems, and maximise the good they can do in the world – and we are here to help.


  • The contract with the DfE starts on 1st April and is for up to three years. It has a value of about £500,000 per annum.