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Set up a New School

Set up a new schoolWhat is it?

Free Schools are a way of improving choice for parents and driving up standards in schools for all young people, regardless of their background. Many state schools are good, some are absolutely superb, and these schools can transform a child’s life and help them achieve things they may never have imagined. But there are areas – overwhelmingly the most deprived – where there are too few good schools. The Free Schools programme, for the first time, provides inspired teachers, parents, charities and community groups with the opportunity to set up new independent state-funded schools that raise educational standards.

The first Free Schools will open in September 2011, but the application process for individuals or groups wanting to set up a new school in September 2012 will open on 16 May.

How can I get involved?

If you are interested in setting up a new school, the best way to start is to contact the New Schools Network, an independent charity, on 020 75379208 or email for more information and advice. The Department for Education can also provide the detail on the different stages of the process and the requirements your proposal will need to meet.

Applications to set up a new school need to be submitted to the Department for Education. The process has closed for this year, but there will be another opportunity to submit proposals in 2012, so you’ve got plenty of time to prepare.

We’ve spend up the process for processing applications dramatically compared to previous schemes like this one – it will take less than a year between the Department for Education granting initial approval for a school and it opening, compared to over four years for previous parent-promoted schools. So although we’re completely committed to making sure the process for setting up a new school should be rigorous – we all want our children to go to good schools – it’s now much faster and simpler to open a new school.

Where can I find out more?

  • The New Schools Network offers advice and support. Helpful tips about what is involved in setting up a school are available on their website
  • Information about how to set up a Free School, and the criteria applications will be assessed against is available on the Department for Education website.