Set up a free school | New Schools Network

Applying to open

To apply to set up a free school, you will have to submit a detailed application through one of the three routes: 

  • Central Route (wave 13): The Department for Education invite applications to open schools in areas of educational underperformance and basic need. This requires you to submit an application directly to the DfE, demonstrating how you meet the criteria. The latest round, ‘wave 13’, is open for applications until November 2018; this wave is only for mainstream schools. 
  • Local Authority Presumption Competition: The local authority publish a specification for a school and invite trusts to apply to run that school. This requires you to submit an application to your local authority, demonstrating how you meet the local authority’s criteria. Presumption competitions are announced throughout the year and can be for any type of school.
  • Special and AP Competitions: The local authority submit an expression of interest to the DfE, outlining a school specification. If this is approved, the local authority runs a competition to find the best provider to run the school. This requires you to submit your application to both the local authority and the Department for Education, who will co-assess your application against set criteria. More information about special and AP competitions will be announced in Summer 2018.

New Schools Network provides a range of services to support free school applicants, all of which are free of charge. We have many resources and offer guidance to all free school applicants, and we also have a more extensive support package - our Development Programme - that you can apply to join.

Read more » 

CENTRAL ROUTE
(WAVE 13)

Find out more about the latest application window, including changes to criteria and how to apply to join the Development Programme.

Read more »

LOCAL AUTHORITY PRESUMPTION COMPETITIONS

Find out how NSN can support groups applying in response to a local authority presumption competition. 

Read more »

SPECIAL AND AP COMPETITIONS

Find out how NSN can support groups applying to open a special or AP free school in response to a local authority presumption competition. 

Read more »