Academies, free schools and open competitions

Find out about academies and free schools in Suffolk, including open competitions for new free schools.

Suffolk County Council has a responsibility to ensure that all children in Suffolk have access to a good school that can make the best of their talents.


  1. Support parental choice both to help children find the school that best suits their needs as well as to develop the local school system as a whole.
  2. Will work to a presumption of support for the creation of academies and free schools, actively managing their introduction into the existing system of schools.

Download the academies and free schools policy statement (PDF, 16KB).


Parents and carers have asked for some help when schools consult them on proposals to become an academy.

We suggest that parents look at the Department of Education guidance for schools converting to an academy.

Free Schools

A free school is set up by an organisation or group of individuals that are not controlled by the local authority and is funded by the government.

GOV.UK provides information and guidance about the establishment of free schools.

Open Competitions

Proposed new primary free school in Stowmarket, Suffolk

Update - The presumption competition for the new primary school at Chilton Leys in Suffolk, which was postponed because of the current COVID-19 health emergency, has now restarted with a new deadline for receipt of applications of 7 August 2020.

The local authority has been successful in our bid to the Department for Education to open a new primary free school in Suffolk and are now seeking proposals from appropriate sponsors.

The new 210 place primary free school in Stowmarket will provide places for young people aged 4 to 11 years. A 60 place pre-school will also be located on site and Sponsors will also be asked to consider offering places to 2 year olds.

In the meantime, the Department for Education website outlines more about the process: Apply to open a special or alternative provision free school.

Contact us

If you have any questions, contact the Schools Infrastructure Team at

Deadline to submit application forms is Friday 7 August 2020. 

Closed Competitions

For details on closed competitions where Suffolk County Council were seeking a sponsor for a new school, please visit Education and Learning Infrastructure Plan for more information.