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New SEMH Special Free School in Gamlingay


Cambridgeshire County Council (The Council) entered into a safety valve agreement with Department for Education (DfE) in March 2023. We are pleased to announce that a key part of that agreement is a new special free school in Gamlingay, South Cambridgeshire.

The new school will be located on the site of the previous Gamlingay 1st School and will be delivered by the DfE using its own consultant and contractor teams. It will offer specialist educational provision to learners with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs.


Cambridgeshire has an existing network of provision which offers specialist education for children and young people (CYP) with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Due to significant growth in demand for special school places, additional places are required to ensure that all CYP in Cambridgeshire are able to attend a school which meets their needs and enables them to thrive.

This new special free school will be for CYP with SEMH needs. It will strengthen Cambridgeshire’s existing special education offer, thereby ensuring that CYP have access to appropriate education which meets their individual needs.


The new SEMH special school will admit children based on need, up to its capacity of 60 pupils.

It is expected that the school will primarily accommodate CYP living in South Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, though it will also offer places to CYP from other Cambridgeshire districts.

The investment for design and construction is being funded by the DfE via the safety valve agreement.

The school is expected to open in September 2025.

The Department for Education announced on 9 May 2024 that Meridian Trust’s application to establish the new school, to be known as Greensands Academy, should proceed to pre-opening phase. The final decision to open any free school depends on the Secretary of State entering into a Funding Agreement with the academy trust proposing to set up the school. Once confirmed, updates will be added to this page.

Contextual information




23 August 2023

Application window opens

23 August 2023

Mandatory pre-registration opens

22 September 2023

Mandatory pre-registration closes

3 November 2023

Application window closes at midday

6 November – 1 December 2023

We will assess the applications

8 - 31 January 2024

Interviews will take place

March 2024*


Further information

If you would like any further information, please contact:

Clare Cook