Free schools in Waltham Forest

Schools, education and learning

What are Free Schools?

The Education Act 2011, sets out the legal framework for the creation of 'Free Schools'.

The Department for Education (DfE) defines Free Schools as:

"All-ability state-funded schools set up in response to what local people say they want and need in order to improve education for children in their community."

On this page we refer to individuals or groups who are considering applying, or are in the process of applying, to set up a free school as “groups looking to set up a new school”.

The process for approving Free School applications is managed by the DfE

Information on free schools can be found on the DfE website.

If you are considering making an application to set up a new school in Waltham Forest, please follow the guidelines provided by the DfE.

We do not anticipate a need for a new primary school until at least September 2017 at the earliest, or for a new secondary school until September 2018 at the earliest.

See further information on the need for places.

At such a time that the Council does deem a new school to be necessary, the Lead Member for Children and Young People will make arrangements to engage directly with potential providers.

The Council will welcome applications from both existing and new providers. In establishing the new school the Council will take account of the DfE guidance Academy and Free School Presumption.

The final decision on whether to accept a free school application is made by the DfE. However, the DfE will normally consult with the Council prior to making their decision.

The Council is determined to ensure that all children in Waltham Forest receive a high quality education. We want Waltham Forest to be a centre for educational excellence and to build on the successes of existing provision.

The Council’s feedback to the DfE will therefore reflect whether the proposal can demonstrate clear evidence of:

  • A proven track record in delivering education provision of the highest quality
  • A proven track record in promoting high standards and innovation to drive system change
  • Capability to manage the process and deliver the proposal on time
  • Commitment to an inclusive, comprehensive and cohesive community by admitting children and young people regardless of religion, gender, sexuality, ethnic origin or ability
  • Understanding of our community and demonstrable experience of success in a similar context
  • Commitment to working in partnership with parents, the Council, other local schools and agencies to support the needs of vulnerable children and young people, including those with statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN) and those at risk of exclusion
  • Commitment to carrying out and responding to meaningful consultation with the local community, including other local schools
  • Commitment to employing qualified school leaders, teachers and support staff

In line with national regulations, the Council will provide impartial support, which may include:

  • A single point of contact at the Council for information requests
  • Information on the Council’s school improvement policies, including the School Monitoring Policy
  • Information on traded services that the Council and its suppliers can make available once the Free School has opened (for example, governor training, human resources advice)
  • Information covering school admissions, arrangements for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), free school meals, travelling to school and religious education. See our schools and colleges pages
  • Statistics about the borough,including information on deprivation

The Council’s support for groups looking to set up a new school will not usually include:

  • Project management
  • Specialist consultancy
  • Bespoke research
  • Site search or valuation assessments
  • Conveyance work (unless a site is to be transferred, leased or purchased from the Council)
  • Communications, including printing, recording or distribution of publicity material

Contact details Click to get info

Free Schools

c/o School Organisation and Governance Team 
020 8496 3000 
freeschools@walthamforest.gov.uk