Free schools
Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors Ltd and Victoria Hatton of Browne Jacobson LLP
Free schools

The following Local Government practice note Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors Ltd and Victoria Hatton of Browne Jacobson LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Free schools
  • Free schools and academies
  • Types of free school
  • Considerations for setting up a free school
  • Advantages of setting up a free school, rather than a non-state funded independent school
  • Advantages of setting up a non-state funded independent school
  • Neutral factors to consider

Coronavirus (COVID-19): This Practice Note contains guidance on subjects impacted by the Coronavirus Act 2020 (CA 2020). CA 2020, ss 37–38, Sch 16 Pt 1–Sch 16 Pt 3, Sch 17 Pt 1–Sch 17 Pt 3, among other measures, make provision to require temporary closure of educational institutions and to make temporary continuity directions relation to childcare, education and training by way of statutory instruments and/or guidance. For further information as to the current impact on this content, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19)—education tracker.

This Practice Note applies in England only. There are no free schools in Wales. Although the Academies Act 2010 (AcA 2010) does apply in Wales, the provisions for the creation and funding of new free schools apply only in England.

This new category of independent school was created in 2010. Free schools are technically defined as independent schools, but this independence is from the local authority of the area in which they are situated, not from the state. Free schools are funded and regulated by the Department for Education (DfE) through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Free schools and academies

Legally, free schools are academies. They are founded or operated under AcA 2010. One practical difference between most free schools and most academies is that academies tend to be schools which, when founded, replaced earlier maintained schools, usually in the same buildings. Most free schools

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