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 register your interest in creating a new free school as part of wave 13 using our free school pre-application registration form, which is available until 1 October 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 5 November 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

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

We are inviting local authorities to submit bids to establish new special or alternative provision free schools.

The deadline for submitting bids is midday, 15 October 2018.

We will notify successful local authorities in early 2019.

We will then invite applications from proposer groups to open special and alternative provision free schools in the successful local authority areas.

Special free schools in Portsmouth, Bradford, Essex and Hounslow

As part of the first special free schools wave, we are also inviting proposer groups to apply to open a new special school in Portsmouth, Bradford, Essex and Hounslow.

The deadline for applications in Portsmouth is midday, 4 October 2018.

The deadline for applications in Bradford, Essex and Hounslow is midday, 9 November 2018.

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

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