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You must register with the Department for Education (DfE) in England before you can run an independent school.

If you’re in Wales, you must register with the Welsh government instead.

You must register if you’ll provide full time education for:

You must show how you will meet required standards on the:

  • quality of education provided
  • spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of students
  • welfare, health and safety of students
  • suitability of staff
  • premises and accommodation provided
  • information provided
  • handling of complaints
  • leadership and management of your school

Your application must include information about:

  • the age range, sex and maximum number of students
  • whether the school will provide accommodation for students
  • whether the school will be organised to provide for students with special educational needs

Your school will be inspected and your details will be entered onto the register if it is suitable.

Fines and penalties

You could be liable to imprisonment for up to 6 months or get an unlimited fine, or both, if you fail to register your school.

Approval of changes to the school

You must apply in writing or by email to DfE or the Welsh government for approval of any significant change to the school or its running. This includes changes to any of the information which was required when applying for registration.

In Wales, this also includes changes to the provision for students with special educational needs.

Department for Education

Unregistered Schools Team
Department for Education
Bishopsgate House

Welsh government

Pupil Wellbeing Branch
Support for Learners Division
Welsh Government
Cathays Park
CF10 3NQ

Your school may be removed from the register if there is a significant change that has not been approved.

Regular inspections

Once registered, your school will be inspected regularly to ensure that standards are being met, and will continue to be met.

You may be required to submit an action plan if your school does not meet the relevant standards. Your school may be removed from the register or a restriction may be imposed on it if you do not submit a plan, or if you do not follow an approved plan.