Applying to open



Setting up a free school requires you to submit an application to the Department for Education using their application form and criteria.

From creating your vision for your school to building a team with the right skills, the process is a demanding one.

Find out what needs to be done and where you should start.


Book a one-to-one meeting


We offer all free school applicants a one-to-one meeting to talk through their plans with one of our Advisers.

This is an opportunity to receive tailored feedback on your proposal, advice on how to develop it further, and information on the free schools application process.

Please also feel free to get in touch by telephone (020 7537 9208) or email if you are at a very early stage or would like a more informal discussion.

Book a meeting » 

Enrol on our Development Programme

Our Development Programme is a range of services aimed to help you to develop your free school proposal and write an effective application. It is completely free of charge, like all of our support for applicants.

Find out more about the support you could receive and how to enrol.


"Our personal adviser responded promptly to all our requests and queries and was very knowledgeable."

- Former Development Programme member

“We couldn't have done it without you! Thank you so much for keeping us on track and motivated”

- Former Development Programme member

“The Development Programme was excellent and offered appropriate support, challenge and rigour.”

- Former Development Programme member

“I would not hesitate in recommending NSN to anyone who wish to open a free school in the future.”

- Former Development Programme member



We hold events across the country for people interested in setting up a free school, from one-to-one meetings to training sessions where you can find out more about the application process and start developing your application.

Find out which events we are running currently.

Browse events » 


Take the first steps to understanding what a free school is and what the process is to set up a free school.

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The New Schools Network provides a range of support to groups who wish to set up a free school, all of which is free to access.

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Detailed guidance and advice on the key elements of the free school application process.

Read more »