Opening a free school or maths school

Documents for groups interested in opening a free school or maths school.

Use the documents listed to help you prepare and submit an application to Department for Education (DfE).

There are 4 potential routes to create new free schools in your area and these are explained below.

Create: Schools provides information and advice on setting up a free school.

Apply to open a mainstream free school

We’re looking to open new mainstream free schools in areas that have both the lowest standards and greatest need for additional school places.

Apply to open a special or alternative provision free school

Opening free schools in local authority areas where there is a need for places (free school presumption)

How local authorities create new free schools to meet a need for new school places.

Pre-opening guidance for free schools and maths schools

Guidance to help free school proposer groups and maths school proposers get their school ready for opening once their application has been approved by DfE.

Model funding agreements for free schools

Model funding agreements, articles of association and lease for academies, free schools and university technical colleges (UTCs).

Financial planning for your free school

Templates and guidance to help you with budgeting and financial planning in free schools.

Free school administration

Guidance to help groups and trusts who are setting up new free schools.

Updates to this page

Published 31 January 2014
Last updated 4 January 2023 + show all updates
  1. Added 'Apply to open a free school in Kingston upon Thames'.

  2. Added 'Apply to open an alternative provision free school'.

  3. Added a link to 'Academy and free school funding agreements'.

  4. In 'Apply to open a mainstream free school', updated deadline for submitting wave 14 applications.

  5. Updated details about applying to open a special or alternative provision free school.

  6. Updated information about the application deadline for wave 14 in the 'apply to open a mainstream free school' section.

  7. Added 'Pre-opening guidance for maths schools'.

  8. Registration for creating a new free school as part of wave 13 closed.

  9. Updated application deadline information in 'apply to open a mainstream free school' section.

  10. Changed information on how to apply to open a special or alternative provision free school.

  11. Details on upcoming expression of interest for local authorities added to '3. Apply to open a special or alternative provision free school'.

  12. Updated with information and documentation for free school applications in wave 13.

  13. Added 'Setting up a new special school' page.

  14. Added 'Studio school revenue funding' and 'Special free school revenue funding'.

  15. Added links for information about opening a studio school.

  16. Added a link to a registration form for anyone planning to apply to set up a free school.

  17. Updated model funding agreements for groups opening a free school.

  18. Updated the pre-opening guide for all types of free school.

  19. Added the revenue funding and pre-opening budget documents under 'free school financial planning'.

  20. Added online form to register an interest in opening a free school.

  21. First published.