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To ask the Secretary of State for Education
(1) for how long he intends to continue funding work being undertaken by the New Schools Network;
(2) what assessment was made of the value for money of work being undertaken by the New Schools Network, funded by his Department, prior to its grant funding being renewed in October 2011; and if he will publish this assessment;
(3) what assessment was made of the need to continue to fund work undertaken by the New Schools Network prior to its grant funding being renewed in October 2011; and if he will publish this assessment.
Officials assessed both the performance and value for money of the New Schools Network's (NSN) work throughout the original grant period. NSN was found to have played a major role in assisting groups to submit quality applications to the Department; for example of the 24 Free Schools that opened this year, 22 had received advice and guidance from NSN. In the 2012 mainstream application process NSN supported over 80% of those approved by the Secretary of State for Education, my right hon. Friend Michael Gove, to move to the pre-opening phase of development.
These figures, supplemented by feedback from groups who contacted NSN for help, clearly demonstrate the value of the support to groups in developing their Free School applications. That is why we assessed that there was an ongoing need for an organisation to provide similar pre-application support and ran an open competition to offer a grant for these services from