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  • Yashna Smart

Free School Waves: The State of Play

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

With a couple of checkpoints already passed in the current free school waves but the majority still out in front, we thought this would be a good time to offer a small update on the state of play and provide key dates to those thinking of submitting a bid.


July 20th saw the release of the Department for Education’s (DfE) ‘How to Apply’ guide for the mainstream wave and interested bidders now have until September 16th to pre-register. By pre-registering, bidders will receive an application pack with the information and forms to submit their bid.

Please note: by pre-registering, you will be held to no obligation later in the process. However, those trusts who do not complete the pre-registration process will be unable to submit a bid in this wave.

Alternative Provision

Pre-registration for alternative provision (AP) will begin on September 12th and run until October 17th. Applications must be made by partnerships.

With less than a month until bidders can pre-register, time now should be spent focussing on finding suitable partners. This is the first free school wave with a separate AP round and the DfE has opened bidding up to partnerships consisting of, as a minimum, a lead applicant and at least one local authority (LA).

As with the above, pre-registering will not hold you to any obligation but is mandatory in order to submit a bid.


Pre-registration for the special free school wave was open only to LAs at this stage and ended on July 11th. Those that registered now have until the 21st October to submit their bids to the DfE.

Successful LAs will be announced towards the end of this year or very early next, and those LAs will then invite proposer groups/trusts to apply to open the school from February 2023.


If you have any questions relating to the information given above or the free school waves in general, please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact form and an advisor will be in touch shortly.

Please note that Create: Schools is a division of PAG created to fulfil the DfE’s free school support contract and as such, can offer free guidance and support, bid review services, and can answer any questions relating to the waves, but cannot actively work with you to write your bid.

If you require professional bid writing support, please contact our parent organisation, PAG.

PAG is a professional services firm specialising in education with a substantial and successful track record of supporting clients with a wide range of services, from bid writing support to pre-opening project management. They are experts in free school bids and have worked with clients since the very first wave, with more than 90% of PAG clients that submit a free school bid making it to interview.

Please click here to get in touch with PAG.


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