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Free Schools, Academies & UTCs

Free schools and academies
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The UK government has been investing in a new schools programme since 2010. The “Free Schools” initiative has delivered over 400 new institutions to date with the Conservative government pledging a further 500 by 2020.

Cushman & Wakefield is the only advisor to have worked with the government (through the Education Funding Agency) since the programme’s inception. Our role is to source and negotiate acquisition of new buildings and sites.

The programme has:

  • Acquired over five million square feet to date
  • Currently has one million square feet of ‘live’ requirements, and
  • Responds to local demand where basic need is a key factor in determining the type, size and provision of school in each geographical location. 
  • As advisors to the Education Funding Agency, we support the delivery of the programme by providing a range of services across agency, planning, technical due diligence, valuation and property management. 
  • We have a national multi-disciplinary team to deliver the appropriate property advice to secure assets. Through this comprehensive offer we have built up a considerable database of D1 property and other suitable premises for school use.


University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are government funded schools for 14-19 year olds that are intended to teach pupils technical and scientific skills alongside the national curriculum. UTCs were established under the coalition government, and operate as a type of academy school.

UTCs require the sponsorship and support of employers, local authorities, and a higher education institution. Employers and universities help to develop and deliver the UTC’s curriculum, allowing pupils to engage with industry experts and facilities.

C&W has worked with a number of universities and local authorities to help them understand the local skills landscape. The team has:

  • Conducted research into employer demand
  • Due diligence on local skills pipeline
  • Explored options for skills development, including whether UTCs are a route to developing relevant STEM skills
  • Conducted site searches for new UTCs.