Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has today approved 35 new free school applications, creating more than 22,000 additional school places for children across England.
Establishing new schools is a vital part of the government’s plan for education - boosting choice for parents and helping drive up standards across the board.
The announcement comes as a survey published today (30 September 2014) reveals the positive impact free school headteachers say their schools are having on raising the standard of education in neighbouring schools.
The representative survey shows how free schools are bringing new ideas and approaches to education:
- 84% of free schools are collaborating with neighbouring schools, or plan to do so
- 72% of headteachers say they are having a positive impact on schools in their local area - often by competition or collaboration
- two-thirds offer an alternative to the national curriculum in some or all subjects
- around half have an extended school day
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:
Thanks to our plan for education more children in England have the opportunity to go to a good or outstanding school than ever before and free schools have been crucial to that change - with more than two-thirds of free schools meeting this high standard.
We are giving thousands more parents a choice of high-quality local schools that offer the excellent standard of education that all pupils deserve.
I am pleased to see how free schools are collaborating and supporting other nearby schools - and now 35 more of them will help even more young people fulfil their potential.
Free schools are brand new state-funded schools. They are independent of local council control and have the freedom to innovate and respond directly to the needs of parents and the local community.
Several of the schools - for example Pinner High in Harrow and SASH 2 in Slough - have been set up by a group of local headteachers who are taking advantage of the free school policy to spread their expertise and track record of success.
Free schools are predominantly located in areas with shortages of places. All mainstream schools approved today are in areas with a need for high quality places. And more than a third of schools approved today will be in the 30% most deprived communities in England.
There are currently 251 open free schools, and now a further 112 are in the pipeline. Once all of these schools are fully up and running they will provide around 200,000 extra school places to pupils across the country.
Commenting in today’s survey, Christine Inchley, headteacher of Stour Valley Community School in Suffolk, said:
All pupils are benefiting from free schools - not just those who attend them. One head of a local school has openly stated that the opening of our school made him work hard to raise standards at his own school.
The survey shows the majority of free schools surveyed - 57% - run an extended school day, while a further 15% plan to do so. The government has made it easier for all schools, not just free schools, to extend the length of the school day, which can help more pupils fulfil their potential. Pupils at Sir Thomas Fremantle Secondary School, a free school in Winslow, Buckinghamshire, remain in school until 4:30pm each day.
Today’s survey also shows that around half of free school headteachers said they are using admissions procedures that are different to neighbouring schools. One fifth of these said they are giving priority for school places to disadvantaged pupils - helping pupils from all backgrounds fulfil their potential. Cramlington Village Primary School, a free school in Northumberland, prioritises disadvantaged pupils through its admissions process. The school has an above average number of these pupils, who Ofsted recognise are achieving well.
Four in 10 of headteachers responding said their term dates differ to their surrounding schools. Free schools such as the Boulevard Academy, a free school in Hull, Yorkshire, are using their freedoms to alter their term dates to help their pupils succeed. Boulevard has reduced the 6 week summer holiday and introduced Saturday learning to increase the amount of time pupils are taught.
The survey also finds that 82% of secondary free schools offer an enrichment programme - additional activities designed to boost the character and wider development of students. Sir Thomas Fremantle offers an extensive programme including use of 3D printing technology and a combined cadet force.
Among the schools announced today, of which around half are set to open in September 2015, are:
Harington School in Rutland, East Midlands, the first sixth-form college in the county. The 300-place school will be led in partnership by the Catmose Federation of academies and Oakham School, a nearby independent school. It will offer a traditional academic education to help students gain entry to Russell Group universities in an area where many students have to leave the county for post-16 education.
Ongar Academy in Ongar, Essex, the first secondary school in the town for more than a quarter of a century. It will offer a broad curriculum focusing on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to 800 students, including 200 sixth formers
Harrow Bilingual Primary School in Harrow, London, which will use the freedoms enjoyed by free schools to offer a bilingual English-French curriculum to up to 420 pupils.
Wynyard Church of England Primary School in Wynyard, Stockton-On-Tees, which will provide 420 places to cater for the expansion of house-building in the local area.
- Pinner High School in Harrow, London, a new school set up by teachers from 8 successful local schools. Up to 1,152 pupils will benefit from their combined expertise and experience.
Since 2010, the Department for Education has received more than 1,300 applications for new schools across the country. An estimated 40,000 pupils are already attending a free school just 3 years after the first school opened its doors.
Notes to editors
- View the ‘Are free schools using innovative approaches?’ research report. Not all of the free schools listed as examples above participated in the survey.
- Of the 35 free school applications approved today:
- 27 are mainstream schools
- 11 are primary schools
- 9 are secondary schools
- 5 are all-through schools
- 2 are 16 to 19 schools
- 4 are for alternative provision
- 4 are special schools
- The majority (72%) of the mainstream schools approved today are in areas where our school capacity data survey for the academic year 2012 to 2013 shows there is a need of more school places (or ‘basic need’). A further 7 have been assessed as being in areas where there is a shortage of high quality places or where local authorities have advised the department more recently that they will need additional school places, meaning that all schools approved today are in an area of some need.
- The free schools groups approved today will now finalise their plans in readiness to open from September 2015. Chief among their tasks will be to secure a site. The department has co-developed the ‘Government Property Finder’ online service with the Cabinet Office. This service lists all surplus government property available to buy or rent, including those suitable for free schools. Preparations also include undertaking a statutory consultation in their local area and taking steps to recruit their school’s principal designate.
- Due to the popularity of free schools, the Department for Education has changed the application process to allow parents and other groups up to 3 opportunities per year to submit proposals, compared to just 1 previously. Not only does this provide flexibility to proposers to submit their application at the time that suits them best, it also means the government can consider applications throughout the year.
Free school proposals approved in the east of England
Bedford Technical Academy, Bedford, east of England
- secondary (ages 13 to 18), 624 places
In response to overwhelming demand from parents and young people, Bedford College is to open a new school in 2016 that will offer high quality academic and technical subjects such as specialist training in science, service and creative technologies in addition to high quality GCSEs. Post-16, young people will be able to work towards the new Technical Baccalaureate - a rigorous, challenging qualification that will ensure they have the technical ability that employers want. Local businesses, including Whitbread, Bourns Ltd and Colworth Science Park, have pledged their support to the school and will provide materials and equipment, as well as providing young people with an insight into exciting potential career paths.
Grove House School, Essex, east of England
- special school (ages 9 to 19), 105 places
A group of parents whose children have special educational needs have worked with experts to open a much needed special school for pupils with speech, language and communication needs. The school will cater for 105 pupils and will offer in-house speech and language therapy tailored to each child. The group are supported by Professor Victoria Joffe of City University, London.
The Ongar Academy, Ongar, Essex, east of England
- secondary (ages 11 to 19), 600 secondary places, 200 post-16 places
This is a proposal led by a group of local parents and teachers for a secondary school in Ongar, Essex. It will mean that the town will have a secondary school for the first time in more than 25 years. The school will have places for 800 students, including 200 in the sixth form, and so local children will no longer have to travel long distances along busy roads to get to school. The school will have high aspirations for every child and a broad and balanced curriculum, with a particular focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
St John’s Church of England Primary School, Hertfordshire, east of England
- primary (ages 4 to 11), 420 places
The parish of St John’s Watford in partnership will the Diocese of St Albans will be opening a new 420 place school in September 2015. It will welcome children from all faiths or no faith, providing them with a stimulating learning environment through a cross-curricular approach. The school sees itself as the centre of the community and will run community events to contribute to the children’s learning and further develop its partnership with the community.
Free school proposals approved in the east Midlands
Wootton Park School, Northamptonshire, east Midlands
- all through (ages 4 to 18), 420 primary places, 600 secondary places, 240 post-16 places
Wootton Park Free School, an all-through school with 3 core principles of ‘attainment for all’, ‘public service’, and ‘stronger society’, will open its doors in 2016 to increase choice and diversity, and address the need for school places in Northampton. The core subjects will be taught and assessed through Cambridge University’s International Curriculum and Examinations. The proposal is led by Andrew Sortwell, former Director of Children’s Services at Northamptonshire County Council.
Channeling Positivity, Nottinghamshire, east Midlands
- alternative provision secondary school (ages 13 to 16), 56 places
Channeling Positivity is an alternative provision school for 56 young people in Rushcliffe. Work experience and internships will be at the heart of the curriculum, along with English, maths and ICT. Young people will be able to attend for short placements of 6 or 12 weeks, or for the whole academic year. Local employers such as Capital One have committed to offer work placements, and Jamie Dunn of Spark Global Education, short-listed as 1 of Top 20 Young People in the World in 2012, is supporting the school. The name of the school was chosen because the lead applicant achieved her goal of swimming the Channel, and wants to inspire young people to achieve their goals.
Daventry Special Academy, Northamptonshire, east Midlands
- all through special school (ages 4 to 18), 175 places
Daventry Special Academy will be an all-through special school for pupils with learning difficulties in Daventry, Northamptonshire. The school will use the opportunities of its town centre site, and its freedoms as an academy, to ensure that its pupils make the most of the educational and community facilities that are the school’s immediate neighbours. Its central site will also reduce the distance that children need to travel to other special schools. The proposer group, which has the full support of the local council, is also working closely with schools and colleges in Daventry and the wider Northamptonshire region to ensure its offer is fully integrated and complementary to the existing provision in the area.
Green Oaks Academy Special School, Northamptonshire, east Midlands
- all through special school (ages 3 to 18), 97 places
The Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust, led by Sir Barry Day, will open their second special free school in September 2016 in Kingsthorpe, Northampton. The trust, which already runs 24 academies in the East Midlands, is known for turning challenging schools into ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ ones. The new free school will provide an outstanding education for children and young people aged 3 to 18 with a variety of special needs including autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), Asperger’s syndrome and severe learning difficulties (SLD). The trust aims to develop a calm, well-disciplined and purposeful environment, with pupils who become confident, well-educated and purposeful citizens.
Harington School, Rutland, east Midlands
- sixth-form college (ages 16 to 19), 300 post-16 places
Harington School, Rutland’s first state sixth-form college, will open in September 2015 and will provide places for 300 students. It will be led by the Catmose Federation, in partnership with Uppingham Community College and the independent Oakham School. The school will offer a curriculum focused on traditional A level subjects to allow high-achieving students to secure entry to Russell Group universities in an area where most students may have to travel in excess of an hour for post-16 education. The support of the proposing schools will allow the free school access to extracurricular facilities, such as sport and music as well as presenting opportunities for the schools to share resources and combine some studies to provide greater opportunities for study.
Free school proposals approved in the north-east of England
Wynyard Church of England Primary School, Stockton-on-Tees, north-east of England
- primary (ages 4 to 11), 420 places
Wynyard Church of England Primary School will be a new 420 place primary school. It will serve the existing local community, as well as families moving into the new houses that are being built. It is backed by the Durham Diocesan Board of Education, which already has 51 popular primaries. Although it is a Church of England school, it will aim to be central to the life of the whole Wynyard community regardless of faith.
Free school proposals approved in the south-east of England
Eaglewood Free School, Hampshire, south-east of England
- alternative provision (ages 7 to 16), 72 places
Located in New Milton, on the Hampshire/Dorset border, Eaglewood Free School will open in 2015 and cater for both primary and secondary students whose emotional and social needs prevent them from attending a mainstream school. Building on the success of the pilot at the outstanding Arnewood School, the free school will offer a personalised learning experience that engages and motivates each student to achieve their potential and ‘soar high’, as encapsulated in the school’s motto. In addition to benefiting from the specialist teaching at the school, students will be encouraged to take part in an extracurricular programme that promotes enterprise, collaboration and resilience.
Forest Bridge School, Windsor and Maidenhead, south-east of England
- all through special school (ages 4 to 16 years), 96 places
A group of parents in Windsor and Maidenhead are opening a brand new all-through special school with 96 places in 2015. Backed by Home Secretary Theresa May and with strong support from the local authority, Forest Bridge will cater for pupils with high functioning autism who struggle to achieve in mainstream schools. The school’s education plan places a particular emphasis on ABA (applied behaviour analysis), ensuring every child makes progress and is ultimately successful.
Hope Community School, Southampton, south-east of England
- primary school (ages 4 to 11), 420 places
Hope Community School Southampton will open its doors in September 2016, creating up to 420 places for pupils. Backed by strong local support the school has links with the organisation City Life Education and Action for Refugees (CLEAR), who aim to improve the quality of life for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Southampton, enhancing the life opportunities of children from all backgrounds.
The SASH 2 School, Slough, south-east of England
- all through (ages 4 to 19), 840 primary places, 900 secondary places, 200 post-16 places
Slough’s first all-through school (reception to year 13) is due to open in 2016. This will be the second school led by the Slough Association of Secondary Headteachers (SASH), which is opening Ditton Park secondary this year. The new school will be supported and developed in partnership with local primary schools and offer 1,940 places. The curriculum will be based on traditional and digital literacy across all subject area. Pupils will have the opportunity to develop their computing skills, as well as developing expertise in information literacy and the use of state of the art technologies.
Free school proposals approved in the south-west of England
Bristol Futures Academy, Bristol, south-west of England
- alternative provision secondary school (ages 14 to 16), 100 places
The first alternative provision free school for 100 pupils in Bristol will be opening in September 2015. Bristol Futures Academy (BFA) will be led by the Weston Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Learning Trust, which includes Dr Paul Phillips, Principal of Weston College. The new school will offer a varied curriculum including academic and vocational courses to help support 14- to 16-year-olds with behavioural issues overcome their barriers to learning and enable them to fulfil their full potential. The school will provide mentors for the development of employability skills and opportunities for work experience. BFA will work in partnership with schools, employers and Bristol City Council to inspire and motivate students to succeed and make a positive contribution to society.
Free school proposals approved in the west Midlands
The British Sikh School, Wolverhampton, west Midlands
- secondary (ages 11 to 19), 840 places
The British Sikh School will open its doors in September 2015 for 840 pupils between the ages of 11 and 19 in the Blakenhall area of Wolverhampton. This faith ethos school will be based on Sikh principles but will be equally welcoming to all children regardless of their faith. The school will offer a rich and varied curriculum including English, maths, science and technology at its core but will also provide an extensive range of vocational courses from engineering, media studies, through to health and social care to meet the demands of local employers.
Finham Park 2, Coventry, west Midlands
- secondary (ages 11 to 18), 800 places
Popular Finham Park School is set to open a new secondary school in Coventry. Creating places for 800 pupils aged 11 to 18; Finham Park 2 will offer a similarly demanding academic curriculum to the successful Finham Park School. Students will be able to study Mandarin, maths and ICT to an elite level. The school aims to increase the number of young people in the area going on to study at university.
Rugby Free Primary School, Warwickshire, west Midlands
- primary (ages 4 to 11), 420 places
Rugby Free Primary School will provide a 420 places in the Coton Park area of the town. It will open in September 2015 and combine the best aspects of independent and state schools. Children will be taught in small classes of no more than 20 pupils per class and a wide range of after school activities will further enhance their learning. The proposers are all representatives of the local community and have shaped their proposals on responses to consultations events. The strength of support for the school is demonstrated by the fact it is oversubscribed already for its first 2 years of opening.
Free school proposals approved in London
ARK Ealing Academy, Ealing, London
- secondary school (ages 11 to 19), 900 secondary places, 300 post-16 places
ARK Ealing Academy will be a mixed school in Ealing, London. The school will open in 2017 and will eventually include a 300-place sixth form. ARK is a multi-academy sponsor with a track record of running successful academies and free schools. The school will follow the successful ARK model by having a strong focus on pupil success, a commitment to developing and building on aspirations, and motivating pupils to achieve regardless of their background or prior attainment.
ARK Wembley Primary Academy, Brent, London
- primary (ages 4 to 11), 630 places (plus further plans for 60 in nursery)
ARK Wembley Primary Academy will be a mixed primary that will open in 2016 and build to full capacity of 630 pupils by 2022. The school has additional plans to develop a 60 place nursery for 2- and 3-year-olds. ARK already runs 27 free schools and academies and will also open a free school in Ealing in 2017. ARK has a track record of running successful academies and free schools and the school will follow the successful ARK model by focusing on pupil success, with a commitment to developing aspirations and motivating pupils to achieve no matter what their background or prior attainment.
The Atam Academy, Redbridge, London
- all through (ages 4 to 19), 420 primary places, 840 secondary places
The Atam Academy will open its doors in September 2016 and will provide 1,260 places for pupils between the ages of 4 and 19 in the Redbridge and surrounding areas. This faith-designated school will be based on Sikh principles but will be welcoming to all children regardless of their faith. The free school aims to build a strong partnership between passionate staff, committed learners and dedicated parents. The school will offer a comprehensive and varied academic education including English, maths and science, but will also focus on business, enterprise and community service. Pupils will be able to develop their business acumen through practical activities and mentoring by local business leaders so that they can develop as ethical entrepreneurs.
Barnet Free Primary School, Barnet, London
- primary (ages 4 to 11), 420 places
The Bellevue Place Education Trust chain is opening a new primary free school in Barnet. The 420 place school will open in September 2015 and combine the best aspects of education from the state and independent sector. Pupils will be taught in smaller class sizes to allow teachers to get to know their pupils better and target support to boost their learning. Parents will be encouraged to take an active part in their children’s education and the school is already oversubscribed for its first 2 years.
The Beckenham Academy, Bromley, London
- secondary (ages 11 to 18), 900 secondary places, 300 post-16 places
Specialising in science, technology, engineering and maths, a new secondary school will open in Beckenham in 2016 in response to the growing need for school places in Bromley. Proposed by the trust of the popular and successful Ravensbourne School, the school will deliver a wide ranging curriculum coupled with high teaching standards and aim to ensure that every student understands and appreciates the importance of tenacity, hard work, courtesy and respect. Students will also benefit from an extended school day. They will have the opportunity to gain qualifications in sport, music, the performing arts, and outdoor pursuits.
The Citizen School, Lewisham, London
- all through (ages 4 to 18), 630 primary places, 450 secondary places, 150 post-16 places
Providing over 1,300 places for primary and secondary pupils in Deptford, The Citizen School will open in 2016 and play an active role in encouraging students and their families to shape their community for the better. Proposed by a passionate group of people with links to the local area, the school will combine academic learning with community activities, including safety and environmental projects. Working with the International Academy in Greenwich, the school will also teach a range of languages, with year 9 pupils having the opportunity to spend 10 days at a primary school in Lyon, France, to develop their linguistic and leadership skills.
Edison Primary School, Hounslow, London
- primary (ages 4 to 11), 630 primary places
A new science specialist primary school is due to open in Hounslow in September 2015. Led by a group of teachers and parents, Edison will have high aspirations for every child and use science to build on children’s curiosity, knowledge, confidence and enthusiasm. The school intends to incorporate environmental learning through a forest schools programme and encourage children to be physically active and develop healthy lifestyles. The school will offer reception and year 1 places for 180 children in the first year (90 in each year group).
Floreat Brentford Primary School, Hounslow, London
- primary (ages 3 to 11), 420 places (plus further plans for 52 nursery places)
Opening in September 2015, Floreat Brentford Primary School will offer an approach to learning that uses cultural knowledge, curiosity and character strengths as well as academic outcomes. In the early years children will focus on the core skills of literacy and maths. As they move further up the school, increasing time will be allocated to subject-based lessons. All children will be set ambitious targets. The school aims to add a nursery as part of their offer to local parents.
Harris Lambeth Sixth-Form Academy, Lambeth, London
- 16 to 19 provision, 600 post-16 places
Opening in 2015, this sixth-form academy will prioritise applications from young people in low income families with the aim of enabling all students to gain university places (including on the top courses) on the completion of their studies. As a sister school to Harris Westminster Sixth Form (opening this year), it will offer the same high expectations and academic rigour that are found in many independent schools. Focusing on science and technology, the school will also offer a wide range of A level courses in what are known as ‘facilitating subjects’. These are the subjects that are both frequently asked for by universities when making offers to potential students and the subjects that can give access to a wide range of higher education opportunities.
Harrow Bilingual Primary School, Harrow, London
- primary (ages 4 to 11), 420 primary places
Harrow Bilingual Primary School will open in September 2016 with 60 pupils and grow to full capacity of 420 in 2022. The school will use the freedoms offered to free schools to offer a bilingual curriculum. The school recognises the positive role a bilingual curriculum can play in the cultural development of children, with lessons being taught in both English and French.
A group of passionate local parents are behind the school, led by Ian Fernandes. The school will be partnered and supported by Holy Trinity Primary School, rated ‘good’ by Ofsted. The team includes Penny Roberts, chair of governors for St Luke’s School, and Christian Penhale and Alistair Land of Harrow School.
Harrow View Primary School, Harrow, London
- primary (ages 4 to 11), 630 places (plus further plans for 26 nursery places which will not be funded through the free schools programme) and 12 special educational needs places for children with autistic spectrum disorders
7 successful Harrow academies:
- Bentley Wood High School
- Canons High School
- Harrow High School
- Hatch End High School
- Nower Hill High School
- Park High School
- Rooks Heath College
are collaborating to extend their high standards by setting up a brand new primary school. Harrow View Primary School will serve a new community in the Harrow View area which is being constructed on the old Kodak site. .
Ideas College, Greenwich, London
- alternative secondary provision (ages 11 to 16 years), 48 places
Offering a curriculum with academic, creative and vocational elements, the Ideas College will provide supportive education for pupils excluded from mainstream education or at risk of permanent exclusion. Opening in 2015 in Greenwich, the school will work in partnership with local schools, universities, industry and third sector organisations. One of these key partners will be the Kids Company, providing both learning mentors to support the student’s emotional and behavioural needs as well as therapeutic services outside school hours and during holiday periods to ensure student’s personal development is sustained. Since its formation in 1996 the Kids Company has supported and empowered children to lead positive and fulfilling lives.
North Twyford Church of England High School, Ealing, London
- secondary (ages 11 to 18), 1000 secondary places, 350 post-16 places
The trust that runs the popular and ‘outstanding’ Twyford C of E High School North is to open a new school in Ealing that will provide a rigorous academic education. All pupils will follow a core programme of English, maths, science, languages, history, geography and RE. Pupils will have longer afternoons for sport and creative programmes and will all have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. The school will have the same principles of embedding a positive ethos within a distinctively Christian framework of values while applying a non-faith, open admissions policy.
One Degree Academy, Brent, London
- all through (ages 4 to 18) 420 primary places, 300 secondary places, 120 post-16 places
The One Degree Academy, for 840 4- to 18-year-olds, has been put forward by the team behind the tried and tested One Degree Programme in Brent. The programme mentors local young people to develop their self-belief and transform their academic performance. The school will have very high expectations and aspirations for its students. The school’s curriculum will give students a global perspective and will make imaginative use of technology to enhance their learning.
Pinner High School, Harrow, London
- secondary school (ages 11 to 18), 900 mainstream places, 240 post-16 places, 12 special educational needs places
8 successful Harrow schools:
- Bentley Wood High School
- Canons High School
- Harrow High School
- Hatch End High School
- Nower Hill High School
- Park High School
- Whitmore School
- Rooks Heath College
are collaborating to extend their high standards by setting up a brand new community secondary school. The new school will build on the high academic standards achieved at these popular schools and create 1,152 places. The proposed school will also offer specialist provision for twelve pupils with autistic spectrum disorders, sustaining their education in a mainstream setting with specialised support and facilities.
Riverside Primary School, Barking and Dagenham, London
- primary (ages 4 to 11), 630 places
Due to parental demand the popular Riverside Secondary School is set to open a new primary school in Barking and Dagenham in September 2015. The new school will provide 630 places for the existing local community, as well as families moving into the new houses being built. The school will be partnered by the highly successful Warren Junior School and will form part of a new ‘Riverside campus’ comprising the secondary and primary schools, as well as a new special school which will also open next September. The primary school will offer a rich and varied curriculum including classical studies and a programme specifically designed to develop the confidence and resilience skills of all pupils to better equip them for their future education.
Trinity High School, Merton, London
- secondary (ages 11 to 19), 900 secondary places, 300 post-16 places
The successful Chapel Street academy chain, whose first free school Atherton Community School was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted in June 2014, is opening a new 11-19 free school in Wimbledon. The 1,200 place school plans to open in September 2016. This Christian-designated school will follow the national curriculum with an emphasis on project based learning, a key theme in the trust’s existing schools. It will provide a strong emphasis on a personalised pathway for every child, high levels of family engagement in learning and school life and regular interaction and application of education within family life.