FOI release

Free schools

A request and disclosure for details of the individuals and groups, either through the Department for Education or its partner organisations, that have expressed an interest in setting up a free school.



  • Date requested: 25 June 2010
  • Publish date: 27 July 2010
  • Updated: 26 April 2012


Can the Department provide details of those individuals or groups that have expressed an interest, either through the DfE, or its partner organisations (i.e. the New Schools Network), in setting up a Free School; as stated from ministerial statements whereby 720 such parties have contacted the Government directly or indirectly?

Please supply:

  • the current total number of applicants
  • the name of the organisation(s) or individual(s)
  • contact details for the organisation or individual
  • any supplementary details submitted detailing the nature of the school intended to be set up.


New Schools Network (NSN) does not receive expressions of interest. People can, however, enter their details on NSN’s website for further information on Free Schools. Such requests do not necessarily represent any actual interest in establishing a Free School, and many may of course come from journalists or researchers. The Department does not therefore collect that information from NSN.

However, the Department does hold information on the 62 Free School proposals it has received to date, but this information is being withheld because the following exemption applies:

Section 22 of the Act, which exempts information held by the Department which is intended for future publication.

The arguments for and against release have been assessed and it is our view that the balance of public interest falls in favour of the maintenance of an exemption in relation to the information relating to this particular request. The public interest in permitting the Government to publish information in a manner and at a time of their own choosing is important.

It is part of the effective conduct of public affairs that the general publication of information is a conveniently planned and managed activity within the reasonable control of the public authority.

This information relating to the request will be made available on the departmental website during the autumn term.

Published 27 July 2010