The Department for Education has chosen London South East Academies Trust to lead the development of a new SEMH (Social, Emotional, and Mental Health) free school for 11–18-year-olds, in Frimley, Surrey.

Frimley Oak Academy will be delivered by the DfE’s Special Free Schools Programme, jointly funded by Surrey County Council’s capital programme. Located in Surrey Heath, it will offer much-needed specialist SEMH provision to address rapidly growing demand in the region.

Joining London South East Academies Trust’s existing network of ten schools, the new provision will provide 60 specialist places in its first year of opening (2027), increasing to 170 in the subsequent five years.

CEO of London South East Academies Trust, Dr Sam Parrett CBE, says:

“We are delighted to have been selected by the Secretary of State to establish this much-needed special free school – and very much look forward to working in partnership with Surrey County Council to deliver it.

“As a Trust, we have a proven track record and much expertise in supporting pupils with Special Educational Needs, including those with more complex SEMH needs. We are ambitious for every single child and young person; committed to raising attainment, encouraging aspiration and supporting social mobility.

“This ambition is reflected by the successful work we have done at Bramley Oak Academy over the past four years; transforming the SEMH primary school in Guildford from a failing provision into a thriving, expanding school, judged to be Good by Ofsted.

“Expanding our hub of schools in Surrey will provide more young people and their families with access to high quality specialist education where needed.

"We are confident that Frimley Oak Academy will also have a truly positive impact on the lives of prospective pupils, their families and the wider community – aligning with our Trust’s vision of transforming lives through the power of learning.”

Dr Julia Katherine, Director of Education and Lifelong Learning at Surrey County Council, says;

“The development of Frimley Oak Academy is key in the delivery of our Capital programme and long-term sufficiency strategy for children and young people with additional needs and disabilities. The additional specialist school places that will be provided mean that families who live in Surrey Heath and the north of Surrey will have access to high quality, specialist school provision close to where they live. It will enable children and young people with complex social, emotional and mental health needs to achieve healthy, independent, and fulfilling lives.

“London South East Academies Trust has a strong reputation, and continuously drives improvements to schools across Surrey and Greater London. We look forward to working with them on this exciting project.”

London South East Academies Trust currently comprises ten academies across Bromley, Bexley, Lambeth and Surrey, including special and alternative provision, mainstream primary, an outreach service and a music hub. Its network includes Bramley Oak Academy in Guildford, which offers provision for 5–11-year-olds with SEMH needs.

 The Trust sits within a wider education group, which also includes a multi-campus further and higher education college (

For more information about DfE’s Special Free Schools Programme visit: Local authority applications to open a special free school: 2022 - GOV.UK (

For more information about London South East Academies Trust and plans for Frimley Oak Academy visit: Joining Soon (

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