A Free School in England is a type of Academy, a non-profit-making, independent, State-funded school which is free to attend but which is not controlled by a Local Authority. They are subject to the same School Admissions Code as all other State-funded schools.
Like other types of academy, Free Schools are governed by non-profitcharitable trusts that sign funding agreements with the Secretary of State. There are different model funding agreements for Single Academy Trusts and Multi Academy Trusts.
Free Schools are expected to offer a broad and balanced curriculum, are subject to the same Ofsted inspections as all other maintained schools and are expected to comply with standard performance measures.
To set up a Free School, founding groups submit applications to the Department for Education. Groups include those run by parents, education charities and religious groups. Start-up grants are provided to establish the schools and ongoing funding is on an equivalent basis with other locally controlled state maintained schools.