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Create: Schools was established by PAG in 2022 to act as the Department for Education’s (DfE) sole delivery partner for the free school applicant support service. By providing expert independent advice and guidance to proposer groups, Create: Schools will support the creation of new mainstream, special, and alternative provision (AP) free schools in areas where they are most needed across the country.

The services provided by Create: Schools are delivered by a team of expert Advisors, who are committed to providing bespoke and tailored advice to any organisation or individual who is interested in opening their own free school. The team will work intensively with proposers during live free school waves to develop competitive, high-quality applications in line with the DfE’s criteria and application guidance.

No matter where you are in your free school journey, our Create: Schools Advisors are here to help you as you turn your vision into a reality.

Relationship with PAG

Create: Schools is powered by PAG, a professional services firm with a specialism in education consultancy and market-leading, first-hand experience of successfully opening free schools nationwide. PAG has a genuine passion for the free school movement and has been writing successful free school applications since the inception of the programme in 2010.

PAG been involved in the opening of over 150 free schools in the past 12 years and has an in-depth understanding of the application phase, having built up a body of best practice research and examples that will be used to inform its support. The organisation’s wider work with schools, trusts, and other public sector bodies makes it well-placed to work with proposers to tackle the challenges and maximise the opportunities offered by the free school process. The PAG team consists of highly experienced and qualified free school project managers with vast knowledge of the free school sector.

Fuelled by this passion, PAG and Create: Schools are incredibly excited to contribute to establishing a new generation of free schools where all children can experience excellent education, regardless of their background.

Our expertise

At Create: Schools, our brilliant team of Advisors have a long-standing understanding of the free school sector. Our Advisors have supported free school applications during previous mainstream, special and alternative provision waves, along with applications submitted under local authority presumption competitions.

Our Advisors also hold experience of supporting free schools during pre-opening with financial planning, governance reviews, marketing and communication, risk management, site and building management, writing education briefs and preparing for key milestones. Our Advisors have worked closely to support free schools and recognise the unique challenges they face, especially during the first few years of operation. This holistic understanding of the free school journey means that we are well-equipped to provide detailed and valuable guidance to aid free school applications.

Our well-established network of industry contacts, who hold specialist sector knowledge in mainstream, special and AP education, are also able to channel this knowledge into practical guidance and support for all types of proposers. For more information about our industry partners, please visit our partners page.




What our clients say


David Boyle, DET: “We found the support from Create: Schools extremely helpful in preparing for our interview. Clear, well-informed & useful feedback ensured that we understood the process and were able to better shape the content of our answers.”

Michael Peters, Reach South: “At very short notice Create: Schools was asked to provide support to prepare for interview for a free school. They responded quickly and effectively in providing a mock interview. This was very well run, covering the key areas that were included at the interview the next day. Verbal feedback from the interview was instant and this was followed up in writing within 2 hours! We would highly recommend Create: Schools and will use them again."

Jayne Foster, Ethos Academy Trust: "The Create: Schools mock interview provided us with the opportunity to respond to the breadth of questions that would be covered in the DfE interview. The feedback (verbal and written) also supported us to prepare effectively for the interview. Many thanks to the Create: Schools team for their time, guidance and support throughout the application and interview stages."

Cumbria Education Trust: “The mock interview helped us to think about precise and succinct answers with figures and examples to back it up. It definitely better prepared us for the real thing!”


How to reach us

If you are looking to open a new free school or would like to discuss the process of opening a free school, please do get in touch. You can complete our Initial Engagement form below and we will be in touch within three working days of your submission.


Alternatively, for initial enquiries, please call +441615289150 to speak to an advisor.

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