Opening a free school or maths school

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

In 2017, we announced plans to create 110 new free schools over the next few years. Free schools have created thousands of good new school places since 2011.

Use the documents listed to help you prepare and submit an application to DfE.

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

The New Schools Network provides information and advice on setting up a free school.

1. Apply to open a mainstream free school

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

You can express an interest in creating a new school as part of the latest round of applications (wave 13), online form available from 18 June to 6 September 2018.

Once you have registered your interest, we will send you the application forms you need to complete. You must register your interest in order to submit an application.

The deadline to submit applications is midday on 17 September 2018.

2. Apply to open a maths school

We’re looking to open more specialist maths schools for the most mathematically able 16- to 19-year-olds.

These will help to create a specialist maths school network with the Exeter Mathematics School and Kings College London Mathematics School.

  1. How to open a maths school

    • Guidance

3. Apply to open a special or alternative provision free school

We want to open new special free schools and alternative provision free schools, as set out in ‘Creating opportunity for all: our vision for alternative provision’.

In summer 2018 we’ll launch an expression of interest round for local authorities that would like to commission a special or alternative provision free school to benefit their area.

Where expressions of interest are approved, in early 2019 we’ll invite applications in successful areas to open around 30 special and alternative provision free schools.

Further details, including the selection criteria, will be published here in due course.

We are currently taking applications to set up a new special school in Portsmouth.

4. 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

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

  1. Free school pre-opening guide

    • Guidance

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.

  1. Free school staffing issues

    • Guidance
  2. Free schools: admission and referral policies

    • Guidance
  3. Registration of free schools

    • Form
Published 31 January 2014
Last updated 14 June 2018 + show all updates
  1. Details on upcoming expression of interest for local authorities added to '3. Apply to open a special or alternative provision free school'.
  2. Updated with information and documentation for free school applications in wave 13.
  3. Added 'Setting up a new special school' page.
  4. Added 'Studio school revenue funding' and 'Special free school revenue funding'.
  5. Added links for information about opening a studio school.
  6. Added a link to a registration form for anyone planning to apply to set up a free school.
  7. Updated model funding agreements for groups opening a free school.
  8. Updated the pre-opening guide for all types of free school.
  9. Added the revenue funding and pre-opening budget documents under 'free school financial planning'.
  10. Added online form to register an interest in opening a free school.
  11. First published.