All free schools receive all or part of their funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), which is part of the Department for Education. However, different types of free school receive different amounts:
Yes. Traditionally special schools have only been able to admit children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), other than in certain specific circumstances. However, special free schools can now admit children with SEN, both with or without an EHCP. These children must have a type of SEN for which the school is designated.
Yes. Free schools can and do generate additional income which is usually used to fund enrichment and extra-curricular activities. However, the Department for Education state that free schools must be able to deliver their core educational offer within the funding that they receive from the government.
No. Whilst free schools can find additional sources of funding beyond their core funding, this must feed back into the running of the school. All free schools must be run by non-profit making academy trusts, which are exempt charities.
Local Authorities retain their statutory duty to ensure appropriate planning of school places. However, the most recent Education Act states that when a new school is required, the LA should seek proposals for a free school or academy as its first step.
Yes. Both LA maintained schools and academies can set up free schools of any age range and type. However, existing secondary schools with an age range of 11-16 should be aware that they cannot use the free school process as a means of extending their age range. To do this an LA maintained school has to apply for this extension through their LA, and academies have to apply for this extension through the DfE’s academy extension programme.
Yes. Non-maintained and Independent Special Schools can convert to become Special Free Schools, where they have proven that they will enhance choice and quality locally or meet a need for places. In order to convert to become a special free school, they must also demonstrate that they have no significant outstanding issues on compliance in their most recent inspection report and have achieved a judgement of good or better in key areas, relating to the quality of education provided and students’ personal development and welfare.