What is an alternative provision free school?

Mainstream schools try every strategy at their disposal, but some young people find that it is not possible for them to thrive, or keep up with their peers, they need space and time to address their problems, they need specialised provision. This is why Alternative Provision Free Schools exist. Local Headteachers have recognised this need and our vision is to provide an Alternative Provision Free School, serving pupils from our schools for whom mainstream education fails to provide the appropriate opportunities and learning solutions. This new provision will offer high quality, effective education for these vulnerable young people.

Governance and The Edge Trust

A group of Edge Network secondary schools have formed a Trust and submitted both a proposal and a business case, detailing all aspects of the school and demonstrating clear demand. This was approved in June 2014. The schools are: Colmers School, Turves Green Boys School, Turves Green Girls School, Four Dwellings Academy, Shenley Academy, Lordswood Girls School and Lordswood Boys School. In order for The Edge Academy Alternative Free School to open, The Trust entered into a contract (called a Funding Agreement) with the Department for Education (DfE).

This is a standard document used by all Free Schools and Academies and is a key legal step towards opening. It sets out the schools responsibilities for maintaining high educational standards and strong governance arrangements in return for receiving funding from the government.

Like academies, all free schools are free from Local Authority control and The Edge Academy has an independant Governing Body which is responsible for operating and directing the affairs of the school. In addition, The Edge Trust, a charitable, non-profit making company limited by guarantee, is the legal body which oversees the school.

Proposed opening, numbers and admissions

An important aim of The Edge Alternative Provision Free School is to provide early intervention for schools and pupils and re-engage pupils with their learning in a mainstream setting. For younger pupils we will provide fixed term provision with a reintegration plan into a local mainstream school. This means that many of the placements will be short term, dual registered and will be subject to regular review. Full time or longer placements will be available where it is clear that an early return to mainstream would not be appropriate.
Admission to the AP Free School will be via The Edge Sharing Panel, a well established and highly rated panel operated by nominated representatives of the Headteachers. The Sharing Panel is chaired by a Headteacher from one of the schools, nominated by the Headteachers Group annually. There are established administrative arrangements, referral procedures and criteria. The Panel meets at least half termly to ensure that the admission timescales as set out in the School Admissions Code are adhered to.

about-page-chairThe School Day

With a personalised timetable structure there is no one model that will accurately depict a typical school day for any individual pupil however, all full time pupils will be expected to attend for a minimum of 25 hours per week and the school day starts 8.50am where pupils will assemble into their form groups for morning registration which is taken at 9am
They will remain on site for lunch. Those attending for a full day will leave at 3pm. Some pupils provision will involve attendance at one of our partner providers, currently Bournville College and Southside in Longbridge, which will be a whole day provision when pupils will not attend the school.


The staffing model for the school anticipates the need for greatly extended provision beyond the traditional 190 days education per year. As well as teaching staff, a range of support staff will be employed on a case load basis with the expectation that they are in contact with their pupils and their families during the evening, at weekends and during school holidays when the traditional dip in learning occurs.

The vision and ethos

The Edge Academy will provide a high quality learning experience to improve our pupils academic success and life chances. In other areas of Birmingham and across the country, groups have established similar provision and we have looked at other providers to ensure that our provision will improve the offer for the most vulnerable.
It will extend and/or replace the mainstream offer where appropriate. We will support and guide pupils more effectively to access the full range of academic, vocational and life skills required in todays complex world and to secure good progression routes. Importantly, The Edge Academy will help to transform the lives of our pupils, enabling them to make the most of their work, life and social opportunities, and to play an effective role in society.