Parents & Carers

Parents & Carers

We firmly believe that parents and carers who take on a supportive role in their child’s learning make a difference in improving achievement and behaviour. The active involvement of parents in the life of the school can help promote a learning community in which pupils can engage positively with school staff and their peers. Through our Parental evenings, open Afternoons, Celebration Events, Enterprise Fairs as well as Evening Performances we feel that we provide parents with the opportunity to understand the role that they play in their child’s learning and development. We know that parental/carer involvement creates a meaningful and crucial partnership with school and enhances the education process. Marchbank Free School Admissions


The annual admission round in September each year is co-ordinated by Darlington Borough Council's Admissions Department.

The school will work in partnership with local authorities and parents / carers to assess the suitability of students for a place at the school.

Once a referral has been received from an LA, the paperwork will assessed by the senior leadership team. If from the paperwork it is felt that the school would be suitable for the student, then the school will agree a provisional placement for the student, subject to a physical assessment. A designated member of staff will then arrange to observe the student in either their current school or in the home setting. Parents/carers will then be invited in for an admissions interview. 

Following this meeting and assessment, in most cases the senior leadership team will be able to make a final decision over the following few days. The school acknowledges that parents/carers have often been through lengthy processes in the past and in recognition of this, the school will aim to advise of the outcome as quickly as possible. However, in a small number of cases, if the decision is uncertain then, rather than make the wrong decision, it may be more appropriate to delay a decision whilst more information can be obtained and school / home visits are carried out.

If Marchbank Free School is able to meet the child’s special educational needs, a formal offer of a place and a start date will be sent to the LA and parent/carer. The proposed fee will be suggested to the LA. When the LA confirms that the offer of a place is going to be taken up, the school will send contracts to the LA.

The pre-placement process will
typically consist of:

A member of the senior leadership team meeting with parents / carers to obtain up to date information, including but not exclusive to the following areas:

Previous placement Attendance


Academic ability

Religious and cultural needs

Parents’ aspirations for the future / what they want the school to do

Current multi agency involvement

Family organisation.

In most cases pupils are encouraged to attend the first part of the admissions interview and, where applicable, having the chance to talk about themselves and their schooling. The pupil would then be accompanied by a member of the staff team and join a class, tour the school or play in the playground, thus enabling the school to begin to assess how they respond to their environment and peers.

Whilst this is a recommended format, it may be adjusted according to individuals. So, for example, if a parent advocates that it would be too stressful for the pupil to visit the school, then the pupil could be observed in their current setting on another occasion. It is essential for parents and pupils, that this first point of contact with the school is positive and successful.

A member of the senior leadership team would meeting with the child’s mainstream school to gather information, including;

Whether the child is looked after and, if so, the name of the contact person and key personnel in the placing authority;

Statement of Educational Needs/Record of Need;

Current care, health, educational plans or relevant personal needs, if available;

Details of any matter which makes the child particularly vulnerable or a danger to others;

Attendance certificates;

Details of any fixed term exclusions;

Lead person details if a CAF is in place;

End of Key Stage Teacher Assessments

Marchbank Free School must agree to being named in a student’s final Education, Health and Care Plan, except where they feel the following conditions may apply:

The school cannot meet the child’s SEN

The placement would be an inefficient use of resources, 

The placement would be incompatible with the efficient education of the other children with whom the child will be educated

The school must also be satisfied that the parents / carers of the child are supportive of the placement.

The school will send out an admissions pack which will include information about the school for both parents and student.

All children undergo annual reviews as laid down by the SEN Code of Practice. Although parents can indicate to their local authority the school of preference to be named in a child’s EHCP, the authority may not agree with the placement identified. In such circumstances parents have the right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (SEN & Disability).

Marchbank Free School is unable to offer places to families who wish to independently fund the placement. All decisions relating to the proposed placement of any individual are confidential. There will be open and regular communication with relatives, carers and advocates, which acknowledge and respect the needs of each user. The school will liaise with the local authority to ensure they are kept up to date.

Transition plans will be made with the LA, the current school placement and the parent/carer. Transitions are often difficult for children who have SEMH. It will be essential to consider mechanisms/strategies that may make the process easier for the child. Pupils may be invited in for one or more transition visits. These should be planned with parents / carers and should be bespoke to individual needs.

More information can be found on the   Darlington Borough Council's Admissions Department website. Darlington Borough Council's Admissions Department website.

Parents or carers seeking a place in our school outside of the September admissions round should contact the school direct on the number shown below. We are extremely keen to talk with any parents or carers who may be considering seeking a place for your child at our school.

If after visiting our website you require any further information or wish to arrange an appointment to visit the school please contact:-

Marchbank Principal

Tessa Fenoughty BSc.(Hons), PGCE, NPQH


Marchbank Free School

Mowden Hall

Barnes Road



Telephone:  01325 254670

Parents & Carers


At Marchbank Free School, we have high expectations of attendance.
This is critical to ensure consistency of care and support and outstanding progress in achievement and learning.

Our pastoral team meets weekly to review the attendance of all students across the school Medical needs are considered. However, all staff have high expectations of attendance, regardless of students needs in order to ensure they receive their statutory entitlement to education.

We ask that parents arrange medical appointments outside of school hours and that illnesses lasting longer than three days are investigated. Our family support worker liaises closely with families who are struggling to support their children to have good attendance and, where necessary, multi-agency support is coordinated to facilitate improvements.

After three consecutive days of absence, our attendance and welfare officers will visit pupils at home to conduct a welfare check.  For pupils with complex medical needs this check may be done through the school nurse or other health professionals.

We will pursue penalty fines where families have failed to ensure pupils attend at least 90% of the time without sufficient evidence to explain absences.

We reward attendance at Marchbank Free School for students with high attendance.

Irrespective of action taken, the pastoral team always considers the personal circumstances of all families of students.


We are committed to dealing with any concerns/complaints you may have about your child’s education as quickly and effectively as possible.

If you have a concern/ complaint please do not hesitate to contact us.

Telephone  01325 254670 or Email:,

Your concern/ complaint will be forwarded to the correct member of staff.

The person dealing with your concern/ complaint will contact you, in a timely manner, to discuss your concerns further.

Leaders and Governors are committed to resolving your concerns/ complaints to your satisfaction.


The school recognises the value of students learning at home and sees this as a means of strengthening the educational process.

Homework within Marchbank is dependent upon the department the student attends and takes into account their specific learning needs.


Please click the link below to download the menu.

Marchbank Menu.pdf