Holding answer received on 26 October 2018
All free school applications are subject to a rigorous application process. Each application, including those with a nursery element, is assessed against published criteria. The assessment process includes consideration of the capacity and track record of proposers, financial viability and value for money.
The cost of a nursery in a free school is integrated into the total cost of the project. It is not possible to separate out the costs of the nursery alone, as they will generally share facilities and services with the school itself.
For the purposes of forecasting, we estimate that the average additional per pupil cost of including a nursery within a primary free school is around £12,000 excluding VAT. For actual projects, costs will depend on a variety of local circumstances including site specifications and pupil numbers.
Where local authorities (LAs) identify the need for a new school, they must seek proposals to establish a new free school. They are responsible for setting the specifications (including for a nursery) and assessing applications. LAs are responsible for meeting the associated capital costs, principally using basic need funding provided by the department.
LAs are also responsible for approving proposals for new voluntary-aided schools, including where proposals include nursery provision. LAs and proposers are responsible for meeting the associated capital costs, with the proposer expected to cover up to 10% of this amount.