Welcome to Newark Toot Hill Free School

Newark Toot Hill Free School is a new 11-18 secondary school being proposed by Toot Hill School and the Torch Academy Gateway Trust for the Newark area.

Newark Toot Hill Free School is a response to the increasing student numbers in local primary schools and the choice many Newark parents make to send their children to Toot Hill School in Bingham for their secondary education. With this clear demand for a new, high achieving secondary school in Newark, the Free School will offer the same achievement focused approach to education that has made Toot Hill an OFSTED 'Outstanding' school.

Offer Day Applicant Update: 1st March 2017

Following the new Year 7 'offer day’ (1st March) we would like to update you in regards to applications for the Newark Toot Hill Free School.

Over recent months the Department for Education and the Education Funding Agency have been working very hard to secure suitable accommodation for the Free School.

As you will appreciate, this work is time consuming and subject to a whole raft of legal processes. We can report that significant progress has been made and we hope to be able to confirm the school's opening date shortly. Once this date has been confirmed we will be able to offer places at the new school. In the meantime we ask for your forbearance and continued patience until we can provide parents, carers and students with more clarity.

Until such a time we strongly advise parents and carers to accept the offer they have received through the Nottinghamshire Admissions Scheme. If you do receive an offer of a place at the free school after this date, you may accept our offer alongside the place allocated by the Nottinghamshire Admissions Scheme. We will contact all applicants following offers at the free school detailing whether they have been successful or unsuccessful with their place.

Despite the delay we are very excited and optimistic about the future of the Newark Toot Hill Free School.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support for the Newark Toot Hill Free School.

Kind regards

John Tomasevic
CEO Torch Academy Gateway Trust

Free Schools explained

Newark Toot Hill Free School will be an 11-18 secondary school situated in Newark.

A Free School is just another name for an Academy which is a school directly funded by the DfE rather than by the local education authority. Most secondary and many primary schools in Nottinghamshire are now academies and both main political parties support the continuation of academies in the future.

Newark Toot Hill Free School would be part of the Torch Academy Gateway Trust which is based at Toot Hill School in Bingham and currently has three secondary schools and one primary school in its trust.

Amongst the schools in the Trust is the Nottingham Free School which opened in September 2014 for Year 7 students. Nottingham Free School has quickly gained a reputation for high standards and excellent teaching, delivering an achievement led curriculum supported by a unique and ambitious enrichment programme. Since opening just over a year ago Nottingham Free School is now oversubscribed in all years.

Newark Toot Hill Free School would provisionally open in September 2017 with 90-120 students in Year 7. This is provisional and will be dependant upon securing a school site and building or refurbishment schedules meeting that deadline. The school would then grow with an additional Year 7 intake every year until full.

Why open a Free School in Newark?

With grammar schools in Lincolnshire and 'Outstanding' secondary schools in Southwell and Bingham, many Newark students choose to be educated in schools outside of the town.

By proposing a new, academically focused secondary school in Newark, we are providing parents and students with an alternative choice to the current options available.

Newark Toot Hill Free School will be secular, inclusive and open to any student within its catchment area. There will be no entrance exam or barrier to access but the rigorous academic curriculum and extended school day will define the highest standards we will expect from our students.

Opening Newark Toot Hill Free School does not endanger current secondary provision in the town. With increasing student numbers at primary level, Newark will need a new, additional secondary school within the next few years. In addition, housing growth in both Newark and Bingham will mean that Toot Hill School, which is already heavily oversubscribed, will have less places for out of catchment students.

School Day

Newark Toot Hill Free School will not follow a traditional school day. Instead it will use an extended school day to ensure that all students have access to a wide range of enrichment and study support opportunities.

The school day starts at 8.15 and finishes at 4.45. During the day there are 9 taught periods which are complimented by an hour session between 3.40 and 4.45 for enrichment and study support.

What makes Newark Toot Hill Free School different?


Newark Toot Hill Free School will have a very clear and distinctive ethos modelled on our successful Free School in Nottingham. With the motto Work Hard, Be Kind, the school will promote traditional values; values that allow our pupils to become successful, confident and articulate young people.

We will encourage staff to be creative, independent and ambitious. We will expect them to challenge and inspire our students, providing high quality learning experiences that motivate students to be the very best they can. High standards and academic rigour will underpin our daily work.

We will develop commitment, independence and courtesy in all of our students. We will expect the very highest standards and in return we will value and respect student ideas and opinions.

We will explicitly promote leadership skills and offer a range of opportunities for students to take an active role in developing their school.

Our extended school day will enable us to offer a wide-ranging enrichment programme providing opportunities to promote independent learning. Students will be expected to learn beyond the classroom and to develop the skills and attributes they need to compete with the very best in the country.


The Newark Toot Hill Free School curriculum will be based on the innovative curriculum model developed at Nottingham Free School. The curriculum will follow National Curriculum guidelines and will provide a broad and balanced learning experience for all students.

At Key Stage 3 students will study a two-year programme that covers all the National Curriculum subjects. Students are taught in ability groups in the majority of subjects, ensuring that every child is taught at a level that matches their ability.

During our three year Key Stage 4 programme, all students will study the English Baccalaureate core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science, a Modern Foreign Language and a Humanities subject.

A wide range of option subjects including Drama, Art, Computer Science, Technology and Sport will supplement the core curriculum. We expect all our students to achieve at least 8 passes at grades A*-C (or future equivalents) including the English Baccalaureate subjects.

Newark Toot Hill Free School will deliver educational provision at Key Stage 5 that is primarily focusing on A Level courses (or future equivalents).


Extra curricular activities are an essential part of a balanced and exciting education. Newark Toot Hill Free School will develop the programme introduced at Nottingham Free School and offer students an extensive range of opportunities built into the extended school day. From 3.40pm until 4.45pm an extended curriculum will be provided for all students.

Each student will have the freedom to develop his or her interests and skills through the highest quality provision, provided without additional cost. We will offer an extensive programme which provides creative, sporting, social and academic opportunities throughout the school year.

We will provide a rich and varied range of creative activities above and beyond the curriculum provision. Drama, Dance, Music, Art and Creative Writing are complimented with the opportunity to study formal LAMDA qualifications.

We will offer both team and individual sports coaching and competition and provide the opportunity to compete against other schools in regular sporting fixtures.

We will ensure that students have a wider range of social experiences through links with other Torch Academy Schools and the wider community, both locally and nationally.

We will deliver a comprehensive range of additional educational activities, which supports classroom learning and provides wider intellectual and academic growth. This will include links with universities, external providers and educational trips.

Frequently Asked Questions

Section A: Developing a Free School

What is a Free School?
Free Schools are state or maintained schools that receive their funding entirely from central government. As such they are automatically Academies and sit outside Local Authority control but adhere to the School Admissions Code of Practice. Free Schools are non-selective and free to all attending pupils. They are set up by interested local groups who feel their area would benefit from a Free School and can demonstrate local demand for one.
Why are you establishing the school?
We believe that every child deserves a good, local school. Local residents tell us that many students are traveling to Lincolnshire, Southwell and Bingham for their secondary education. In addition house building and increasing pupil numbers at primary age mean there will be a need for a third Newark secondary school in the future.
How many children are you accepting in September 2017?
We will be provisionally accepting between 90 and 120 Year 7 students for entry in September 2017. We will only be accepting Year 7 students in the first year. We will build year by year, with an eventual number on roll of 600 students by September 2023.
Why do I need to express my interest now?
In order to secure funding, we have to demonstrate sufficient parental interest in our school to the DfE. Expressing your interest in the school by completing our survey is all you have to do at this stage, indicating that Newark Toot Hill Free School may be a preference for you. This will help ensure that you and other parents have the future choice of Newark Toot Hill Free School.
What if I sign up then change my mind?
Expressing you interest at this stage does not commit you to sending your child to the school. You will complete your school choices when your child is in Year 6 in the usual way.
How and when do I apply to Newark Toot Hill Free School?
We will be accepting provisional applications for the Newark Toot Hill Free School from the 1st September 2016. It is important that parents note that whilst we are hoping the school will open in 2017 this will be dependent upon securing a school site and building or refurbishment schedules meeting that deadline. In addition, it is essential that parents continue to apply through their local authority application process identifying first choice places in other secondary schools in the area.
What is your admissions policy?
The admissions process will be conducted by the Nottinghamshire LA co-ordinated admissions scheme.
Is your location decided and has the site been secured?
Once public consultation has been concluded and the school has been given the green light we will work with the Department for Education to identify a site ready for opening.
How will my child get to the school?
Once we have a clearer idea of where pupils live in relation to the school we will begin to explore transport options.
How does the funding work?
If successful Newark Toot Hill Free School will receive a package of funding direct from the Department for Education to set up and establish the school. From September 2017 the school receives a per pupil funding settlement from the Local Authority in line with all maintained secondary schools.
What happens if there is a change in government / education policy?
Upon opening, all free schools receive the same legal status as academies. We are joining a group of hundreds of existing academies, a policy supported across the political spectrum.
How can I become more involved now?
Newark Toot Hill Free School is committed to serving the community. We are initially looking for parent ambassadors to promote the School and its ethos during the development phase. Once the school is running, parental involvement through the governors and the Parent Association will be a vital part of school life.
How can parents get involved in the running/future of the school?
We seek to engage positively with our parents. Parents will be invited into school regularly and will meet formally with their child mentor twice a year. A parental focus group will operate throughout our pre-opening stages and this will continue to offer a regular voice for parents after opening. Parents will be represented on the school's governing body.
How can I stay in touch as the project develops?
Over the next two years we will continue to involve prospective parents in every aspect of the project. We will provide regular updates via Twitter, our website and email newsletters. We will also run regular formal and informal information evenings and provide a range of extra curricular opportunities for potential students.

Section B: Academic Culture and Ethos

Will you be focused on academic excellence?
Yes. Our academic priority is to deliver excellent GCSE results in the English Baccalaureate subjects, providing a secure foundation for A level success. This will enable students to secure places at the Russell Group Universities.
What is your track record?
Torch Academy Gateway Trust currently has four schools within its group. Toot Hill School in Bingham is our lead school and was designated Ofsted 'Outstanding' in 2012. Meden School in Market Warsop was designated Ofsted 'Good' in 2014. Nottingham Free School is yet to undergo an Ofsted inspection but is oversubscribed in both year groups currently attending the school. Birklands Primary School joined our trust in 2014.
We also work as education partners at Djanogly City Academy, Nottingham University Samworth Academy, Nottingham University Academy of Science and Technology and Alfreton Grange School.
What is the track record of the school leaders?
John Tomasevic, our CEO, is a National Leader of Education, with extensive experience of leading secondary schools. He is supported by an extended leadership team, used to securing high outcomes for students. This includes experienced Heads of School.
What will you be looking for in your staff?
We will be recruiting outstanding professionals, who share our vision for education, our passion and who are committed to doing whatever it takes to deliver excellence for our students. We will be recruiting qualified teachers on the basis of their academic qualifications, quality of classroom practice, commitment to learning (that of students and their own) and our vision. Being part of a highly successful wider group of schools enables us to use teachers who we already know are outstanding.
My child has special needs? How will you cater for them?
We will follow the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice to ensure that students are appropriately supported. We have access to experienced, specialist support teachers, for example to support students who are dyslexic.
Will there be a school uniform?
Yes. School uniform is an important factor that helps promote school identity and set high standards. Uniform will include blazers and school ties.
Will there be after schools clubs for those with working parents/carers?
Newark Toot Hill Free School will run an extended school day, ending at 4.45pm. This means that working parents/carers won't have to find child care for their children.
What sports will be offered?
Sport will form an important part of our school. We will offer a wide range of sporting opportunities and and high quality sports coaching. Sports will include team games (Football, Rugby, Cricket, Netball) and individual pursuits (Athletics, personal fitness). A big difference between us and other schools will be our use of specialist coaches during enrichment time, ensuring sporting excellence can be developed and nurtured.
Will you encourage arts education and music and drama?
Yes, this is a key part of our offer. Our afternoon enrichment sessions will allow access to music, drama and artistic opportunities beyond those offered in the curriculum. We will use the skills of professional actors, musicians and artists to enhance the quality and variety of our overall provision and provide students with experience of professional working practices.
What other activities will you offer?
We will offer opportunities for leadership development, public speaking, debating, enterprise activities, language exchanges, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, community development, social responsibility and residential trips and visits.
Do you intend to open a Post-16 school?
Yes, Newark Toot Hill Free School will be an 11-18 school.

Latest News and Tweets

  • Update for parents and carers

    School opening and name

    It has been great to meet so many of you over the last couple of months at our Year 6 Open Events. Your attendance and ongoing enthusiasm for the school confirms that Newark wants and needs a new secondary school for its community. We have now received over 150 provisional applications for Year 7, 2017 entry.

    As we have discussed at the Open Events this Autumn, opening in 2017 will be dependent on finding a suitable site for the school and if a new building is required, also locating temporary accommodation until the new facilities are built.

    We are working hard with the Department for Education (DfE) and the Education Funding Agency (EFA) to put in place a plan for 2017 opening but it is important to remember that if a site cannot be found in time, the school may have to defer opening until 2018.

    For this reason, it is vitally important that even if you have applied to the Newark Toot Hill Free School, you also apply for a place at an established school through the Nottinghamshire County Council School Admissions service.More details of how to apply for a school place through Nottinghamshire County Council can be found here.

    We have begun to receive some interesting suggestions for the long term name of the Newark Toot Hill Free School. If you would like to add your suggestion to the list, please contact Stephanie by email with your idea: stbird@torchacademy.co.uk

    Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their continued support. We understand that the whole community is waiting to hear where the school will be located and we will notify everyone the moment we have confirmation. For parents and carers, that will be before the 1st March school place offer day, allowing you to make an informed decision about the school place you select for your child.

    Kind regards,

    John Tomasevic

    CEO Torch Academy Gateway Trust

    Posted 19/10/2016 by Whole School

  • Applications Open

    Thank you for your continued interest in the Newark Toot Hill Free School. Since we launched applications for the Free School last Thursday we have been delighted with the response from parents with over 60 applications already received through our online system which can be found here: www.newarkfreeschool.co.uk/apply

    Places are also filling up fast for the first of our Year 6 Open Evenings which takes place on the 14th September. These evenings will allow you to find out more information about the Free School, ask any questions you may have and apply for a place. We will be holding further meetings on the 27th September and the 11th October. Each of these events will take place at the Everyday Champions Centre, Newark from 7pm to 8pm.

    To book your seat at an Open Evening or to find out more please visit the website: http://www.newarkfreeschool.co.uk/open.php To book by phone please call 01949863045.

    Unfortunately we do not have any further news regarding the site of the Newark Toot Hill Free School but as soon as we have more information we will contact all prospective parents.

    Finally if you know of any one else that may be interested in these events please pass on this email and spread the word.

    We look forward to meeting you this Autumn.

    John Tomasevic

    CEO Torch Academy Gateway Trust

    Posted 07/09/2016 by Whole School

  • Important Information for Parents and Carers


    We wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been in touch to express their excitement and continued support for the Newark–Toot Hill Free School (Newark Free School). We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and encouragement this announcement has generated in the wider community and we look forward to sharing each and every development and milestone with you all as we target a September 2017 opening.
    We would like to outline the next stages of the opening process and provide more detailed information regarding applications.


    The nature of opening a Free School means that there are often short periods of intense activity, punctuated by quieter weeks where development is going on behind the scenes. We will try to keep you updated throughout the process through monthly email newsletters, posting weekly stories on our website news feed and more frequent updates via Twitter. We will also be working with the local press to keep the wider community updated.
    If you would like any further questions answered or if you have a general enquiry, please contact our Communications Officer, Stephanie Bird from 10.00am – 4.00pm using our website contact form, email enquiries@newarkfreeschool.co.uk or by telephone on 01949 863045.

    Applications and 'The Golden Ticket'

    This year the closing date for secondary school applications through the Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) process is the 31st October 2016. Other local authorities may have different arrangements.
    Parents and carers who wish to apply for a place at Newark Free School can do so from the 1st September 2016(this is a revised date and supersedes the 1st October date mentioned in initial communications).
    'The Golden Ticket' is the opportunity for parents and carers to apply directly (not through the NCC application process) for a place at the Newark Free School from the 1st September whilst also applying for a place at an established secondary school through the NCC application process.
    First round applications for the Newark Free School will close on Tuesday 31st January 2017 at 5.00pm. If you apply before that date, we will contact you on the 1st March to inform you if you have a place. You can still apply after that date but we cannot guarantee we will be able to confirm the outcome of your application by the 1st March. We many extend the application cut off date at our discretion.
    The direct applications received by Newark Free School will be communicated to NCC after the secondary school places have been allocated at the beginning of March, giving parents the option to send their children to the Free School (if they have secured a place) and whichever school they are allocated through the NCC system.
    This duel track system provides parents and carers with the reassurance that their child will have a school place for September 2017. Once parents and carers have made their final decision they can reject one of the two places on offer.

    School Location

    The location of the school will be decided through consultation with the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and the Newark Free School team. The announcement of the school location can only take place after all commercial contracts have been signed. We anticipate that this information will be available before the final application date of the 31st January, allowing parents to make a more informed decision.
    We can only disclose the location of the school once we have had formal confirmation from the EFA.


    Whilst timelines can change during the development of a school the following should give a general indication of the key milestones in the project.

    • Summer 2016

    During the summer holidays the Department for Education (DfE) and Education Funding Agency (EFA) will meet with representatives of the Torch Academy Gateway Trust (TAGT) to start to plan the finer details of the project and begin the process of looking for a school site.
    This summer will be a relatively quiet period for news and communications. We will continue tweeting over the summer and should any major announcement happen we will notify all registered parents by email and through our website news feed.

    • Autumn 2016

    At the start of the Autumn Term (if not sooner) we will announce the dates of our Year 6 Open Evenings. These events will provide parents and children with the chance to find out more about Newark Free School and meet key members of staff. At these events we will be fully outlining the curriculum model, enrichment opportunities and the wider vision for the school.
    1st September: First round of direct applications to Newark Free School open.
    Dates TBC: Year 6 Open Evenings held.
    31st October: NCC secondary school application deadline.

    • Spring Term 2017

    31st January: First round of direct applications to Newark Free School close.
    1st February: Second round of direct applications to Newark Free School open.
    1st March: NCC and Newark Free School notify parents of place allocation.
    Date TBC: NCC final cut off date for accepting places through NCC.

    • Summer Term 2017

    Date TBC: Induction events for Year 6 students, parents and carers.
    Date TBC: Information event for Year 4 and 5 parents and carers.
    Date TBC: Uniform shop and Year 6 parents and carers meeting.
    30th June: Second round of direct applications to Newark Free School close.

    • Autumn Term 2017

    4th September: Provisional school opening date.

    You can sign up for news updates here: http://www.newarkfreeschool.co.uk/#home-signup
    Finally, can we take this opportunity to thank you once again for your continued support.

    Posted 12/08/2016 by Whole School

  • PRESS RELEASE: Prime Minister announces opening of Newark Toot Hill Free School

    In his last day in office, Prime Minister David Cameron, announces 31 new Free Schools

    We are delighted to announce that following a rigorous application and assessment process, the proposal for Newark Toot Hill Free School, a new secondary school for Newark, was today announced by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in one of his last acts in office. 

    Approved by the Department for Education, the Newark Toot Hill Free School, proposed by the Torch Academy Gateway Trust, will now work towards opening in September 2017, catering for 120 Year 7 students in the first year. 

    John Tomasevic, CEO of the Torch Academy Gateway Trust said: 

    We are delighted that our bid has received the endorsement of the Secretary of State and we look forward to providing a new opportunity for parents and children in the Newark area.

    Newark Toot Hill Free School will compliment existing secondary school provision and provide much needed additional school places over the next 7 years. 

    Sarah Pearson, Interim Director of New Schools Network, said:

    “The application process to set up a free school is extremely rigorous so it is a testament to TAGT’s hard work that they have been approved to open.


    Posted 13/07/2016 by Whole School

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