National Association of Independent Schools and Non-Maintained Special Schools


Welcome to the National Association of Independent Schools and Non-Maintained Special Schools.

The National Association of Independent Schools & Non-Maintained Special Schools (NASS) is a membership organisation working with and for special schools in the voluntary and private sectors within the UK. NASS is proud of its role in improving opportunities and standards for independent and non-maintained special schools. Some of our achievements include:

  • Successfully lobbying the Government to include Non-maintained special schools in centrally funded initiatives e.g. standards fund, teacher threshold, and devolved formula capital. NMSS now receive over £7 million a year from central government.
  • Central partner in the development and launch of the National Contract for Placement in Independent Schools and Non-Maintained Special Schools. The contract was launched in 2004 and amended in 2007. It is used by over 100 Local Authorities and over 100 schools.
  • Central point of contact for the sector for Government. NASS has been part of the Special Schools Working Group, gave oral evidence to the Education and Skills Select Committee report on SEN and sits on the board of a number of national organisations.
  • In 2007, NASS launched "Making Sense of Mental Health", a report of a study of the emotional wellbeing of pupils with SEN. NASS commissioned the University of Northampton to undertake a study of practice and policy in member schools. We will be using this report to generate funding for further work on curriculum and resource development.

    The NASS website provides details on all our member schools plus information on a range of issues relevant to special educational needs.

Commissioning SEN Placements in NMISS

In light of changes signalled by the Children and Families Bill and in response to many recent issues around local and regional tenders, NASS has recently developed a discussion paper to help schools and Local Authorities, considering NMISS placements.
This discussion paper is available to download from here.

New NASS report indicates that Independent and Non-Maintained Special Schools can be a cheaper option for children with SEN as well as saving the public purse millions

5th October 2012. A new report from Baker Tilly, commissioned by the National Association of Independent Schools and Non-Maintained Special Schools (NASS), has confirmed that independent and non-maintained special school provision is cheaper than the equivalent local authority provision for students with complex special educational needs. A second study, using social return on investment methodology, calculated that placements in the 8 participant schools represent annual savings and returns of approximately £24 million per annum to the Government. If these findings were to be replicated across the Non-maintained and independent sector, this would represent annual returns of over £600 million.

The Baker Tilly Study has indicated that a day or weekly/fortnightly boarding placement in a non-maintained or independent special school (NMISS) is cheaper than the equivalent package of support being provided by a Local Authority. This expanded study follows last year's cost comparison report which suggested that, on average, packages of support in day and term-time NMISS provision were cheaper than a Local Authority providing such support themselves. It comes at a crucial time with the Government in the process of implementing the biggest changes to SEN provision for 30 years.

NASS was pleased that the recently published SEN Clauses of the Children and Families confirmed that the Government plan to change the law to give parents of children with statements of SEN (and in future Education, Health and Care Plans) identical rights to express a preference for any state-funded school, including Non-Maintained Special Schools. However, NASS was very disappointed that this proposal was not extended to independent special schools, making it harder for parents to to access the support their children require. NASS hopes that the findings from this report will go some way to persuade the Government that independent special schools need to be included within the SEN reforms.

Download the Cost Comparison Report Here

A second Baker Tilly report published 5th October 2012 has explored the value of a placement in a NMISS through considering its social impact. A good school placement, which meets all the needs of a child or young person, has a lasting impact on their future employment, health and social care needs. This report has calculated that the return to society over a 25 year period is between £150,000-600,000 per young person placed, with an average return of c.£250,000. If the findings of this study were replicated across the Non-Maintained and Independent Special School sector, this would represent annual savings and returns of approximately £600 million.

Download the Social Return on Investment Report Here

Claire Dorer, Chief Executive of NASS, said:

"We now have strong evidence that day and weekly/fortnightly boarding in NMISS offers a more cost effective route to delivering multi-agency support to young people with complex needs than equivalent Local Authority packages of support. This report is backed up by the social impact study which has found that placements in the Independent Special School sector represent annual savings and returns of approximately £600 million to the Government

"We know that parents have had roadblocks put in their path when they have attempted to place their children into non-maintained and independent special schools. We are, therefore, pleased that the Government SEN proposals plan to give parents the right to express a preference for a Non-Maintained Special School. However, NASS calls on this right to be extended to Independent Special Schools. Independent Special Schools provide services generally not available in other special schools, improving the life chances of those pupils."

Jim Clifford, Head of Non Profit Advisory Services, at Baker Tilly comments:

"This is a robust and carefully constructed piece of research that demonstrates a key point: that the costs of State-funded non-maintained or independent provision for education of those with more complex difficulties is not more expensive than the properly supported State equivalent. Indeed it may be the case once this study is supplemented by a proper evaluation of the wider impact of both types of provision, that the non-maintained and independent version is, for these youngsters, a more cost- effective intervention."

Calling All Free Special Schools and Special Academies!

Did you know that you are now eligible to join NASS?

NASS is the only national organisation working exclusively with special schools which are not maintained by the Local Authority. We have 15 years experience of offering support, advice and information to special schools and currently have over 200 members across England and Wales. Visit our Joining NASS page for more information.

CASPA (Comparison and Analysis of Special Pupil Attainment)

We are pleased to advise that NASS is now an official distributor of CASPA and support provider to its member schools and is able to offer its members a significant discount on CASPA licence prices.
If you would like to know more about purchasing a CASPA licence through NASS, please go to the CASPA webpage.

Make sure you view the Calendar page for upcoming Conferences, Training Events and much more. If you are a member of NASS, don't forget to check the Members' Zone.

Did you know you can now follow NASS on Twitter @NASSCHOOLS? Keep up to date with changes as they happen.