Free school pre-opening guide

Guidance for groups who are in the process of opening a free school.



Guidance on how to complete the necessary steps to open one of the following types of free school:

  • mainstream
  • special (for children with special educational needs or disabilities)
  • alternative provision (for children who can’t go to a mainstream school)
  • 16 to 19
Published 30 September 2014
Last updated 11 May 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated guidance as of May 2018.
  2. Updated guidance to reflect our current policies on funding, governance, admissions and other important areas that projects must comply with during pre-opening.
  3. Updated guide for groups who got approval in September 2016 to open a free school (wave 11).
  4. Updated document with changes to information on safeguarding, inclusivity and religious character, funding and financial governance.
  5. Document updated with changes to the admissions, procurement and governance sections.
  6. Updated document. Revised sections include: governance, funding, site and buildings, admissions and religious character. Added information on inclusivity, school food, and proposer groups.
  7. First published.