Special Free Schools are state funded outside of local authority control and specifically organised to make educational provision for children with special educational needs. Special Free Schools will cater predominantly for children with statements of SEN.

Special Free Schools are part of the Free Schools programme and will widen its reach to some of the most vulnerable children in our society. Innovation and high standards of teaching and achievement are key aims of the introduction of special Free Schools.

This guidance is for people who would like to establish a special Free School. It includes information about how to apply and tips and criteria for a successful application.

Visit the DfE website for more information


  • Things to know before you start
  • Getting started
  • The application process explained
  • How we assess applications
  • Preparing your application
  • Assessment criteria
  • Submitting your application
  • Support for applicants