Free schools: admission and referral policies

Guidance and templates to help free schools write their admission and referral policies.


Free school admissions: guidance

Special free school admissions: guidance

Mainstream free school admissions: template

Free school admissions: models

Free school admissions: common issues


These documents will help free schools draft fair and clear admission and referral policies.

The ‘guidance’ documents explain how to develop admission policies for free schools and special free schools. You should read them alongside the school admissions code.

The ‘template’ documents will help you draft your school’s admission and referral policies.

The ‘models’ document provides examples of admission arrangements that comply with the school admissions code.

The ‘common issues’ document gives advice on problems you may have when drafting and applying your admission policies.

Special free schools are free schools for children with special educational needs or disabilities.

Alternative provision is for pupils who can’t attend mainstream school for a variety of reasons, such as school exclusion, behaviour issues, short- or long-term illness, school refusal or teenage pregnancy.

If you have problems downloading any of the documents on this page, please email us:

Free schools pre-opening team

Published 27 May 2013
Last updated 30 October 2017 + show all updates
  1. Replaced 'Special free school admissions statement of provision: template'. Updated version clarifies that local authorities can place children at a special school to assess if they need an education health and care plan.
  2. Updated the ‘Mainstream free schools admissions template’. Added drop-down menus that give schools the full list of admissions criteria they can lawfully use.
  3. Added special free school admissions guidance and free schools admission and referral templates.
  4. Documents updated to rectify a minor omission in waiting list arrangements and to correct an error in an admission number in the models.
  5. Changed guidance, template, common issues and models documents to reflect the new admissions code and clarify guidance for free schools.
  6. All 4 downloads replaced.
  7. Updated free school admissions 'models' and 'common issues' documents. They reflect changes to advice on deferred entry to reception
  8. Added a free school admissions template, plus documents on common issues, guidance and models.
  9. First published.