This area contains all the information you need to be given permission and funding to set up a Free School.
To set up a Free School you have to submit an application to the Department for Education (DfE). The process is not easy – you will need a team with a range of skills who are willing to put in a lot of unpaid time. But it is achievable – we have helped over 200 schools get approved in the last three years.
To help you navigate this section of the website, it’s important that you first download and read the guide at the end of this page to decide what kind of Free School you want to set up – mainstream, Special, AP or Hybrid. The DfE has different application forms and requirements for each.
Once you have decided what kind of school you want to set up you should:
- Sign up for one of our training events and have a 1 on 1 surgery with an adviser;
- Read our detailed guidance from ‘first steps’ to completing a full application; and
- Apply for further support through our Development Programme.
The next application window is primarily for schools opening in 2015.
You will be able to submit your application to the DfE in one of their three rounds. The deadlines for these application rounds are:
12 noon on Friday 13 September 2013
12 noon on Friday 10 January 2014
12 noon on Friday 9 May 2014
There are two different ways to submit a Free School application to the DfE - Route 1 and Route 2. Route 1 is for any group that has had a Free School application of the same type (Mainstream, Special or AP) and phase (primary, secondary) approved before. These applicants provide less information than Route 2 applicants. Route 2 applicants must complete the whole application form.
You can find out download the application forms and guidance from the DfE's website here.
You can still apply for our support through our Development Programme, which you can read more about here.
Using our guidance
We recommend you read our guidance in the following order:
- Read our Free Schools 101 guide;
- Decide what kind of Free School you are applying for by downloading our guide;
- Read the First Steps guidance on how to build a team and develop your vision;
- Start seeking parental demand;
- Download our checklist and skills gap analysis from the Tools page to help you plan how to prepare your application;
- Read our full application guides; and
- Refer to the specific subject guidance when you need more help. You can use the links in our data sources page to help you complete your application.
We also strongly recommend you attend Free Schools Live! On 28 June to access detailed workshops and guidance, as well as sign up for a surgery with an adviser.