Establishing a new school: free school presumption

Guidance on establishing new schools and the qualities new school proposers must demonstrate.

Applies to England



This is for:

  • local authorities
  • new school proposers

It applies to academies and free schools.

It describes the process for establishing new schools under the ‘free school presumption’. You should read it in conjunction with the annex documents on this page.

The Education Act 2011 changed the arrangements for establishing new schools and introduced section 6A, which is known as the academy or free school presumption.

Local authorities can adapt the annex A model specification to specify what they need from proposers.

New school proposers can use the annex B model application form to submit their proposals to the local authority.

Both local authorities and proposers should refer to annex C, the model criteria for presumption schools, when seeking proposals or making applications.

Single or multi-academy trusts establishing new academies and free schools should see the model academy and free school funding agreements.

Published 23 July 2015
Last updated 5 November 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated 'Academy and free school presumption: guidelines' document.

  2. Updated guidance and all annex documents as of May 2018.

  3. Updated advice and added local authority specification form, proposer application form and model criteria for new schools.

  4. First published.