Setting up a free school

To set up a free school, you’ll need to apply through the Department for Education (DfE).

You can set up a free school as part of a group that can provide evidence of parental demand (eg a petition), such as:

  • community or faith groups
  • parents
  • teachers
  • charities
  • businesses
  • universities
  • independent schools (private, fee-paying schools)

All applications to set up a free school must be approved by the Secretary of State for Education. Free schools must:

  • meet a genuine need in the community, backed up by evidence
  • have a good financial plan in place
  • have ‘fair and transparent’ admissions criteria

Apply to open a free school

Find out how to apply and download the forms you need to complete.

The charity New Schools Network has more information for people interested in setting up a free school.

You can search for government property and land available to rent or buy for your school. You can also find data for other schools in the area.