Education secretary Michael Gove has announced that 16 free school proposals will progress to the business plan and case stage.
"We need to reform our education system if we are to accelerate improvement to keep pace with the highest performing systems of the world and ensure that every pupil growing up in this country gets a better chance of achieving their potential," he commented.
Mr Gove claimed that free schools form an integral part of the coalition government's education plans.
He pointed out that all proposals have been driven by local demand for more school places.
The proposals come from a diverse mix of groups, Mr Gove added.
It was revealed last week that 142 schools are to gain academy status this year.
In total, 32 will convert this month, with the rest following soon. The government revealed seven of these are primary schools.