Press release

Free schools: 55 to open this month – twice as many as this time last year

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Fifty-five new free schools will open in September 2012. They will raise standards and increase choice for parents.

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The government has today announced that 55 new free schools will open this September. The first 24 free schools opened in September 2011 while a further 114 have been approved to open in 2013 and beyond.

Free schools aim to achieve higher standards and offer a genuine alternative. They are funded by the government but have greater freedoms than local authority-run schools. They are run by teachers - not local councils or Westminster politicians - and have freedom over the length of the school day and term, the curriculum and how they spend their money.

The schools opening this month include:

  • Dixon’s Music Primary Academy, in Bradford, which is the first specialist music primary school in England.
  • Everton in the Community Free School, on Merseyside. The alternative provision school is being run by Everton Football Club and will cater for pupils aged 14 to 19 not in mainstream education.
  • Bilingual Primary School, in Brighton & Hove, will be the first bilingual Free School in England, specialising in English and Spanish.
  • School 21, in Newham, east London, is a teacher-led all-through Free School, including a sixth-form, in an area of significant deprivation. One of the founder members, and the executive head teacher, is Peter Hyman, previously a speech-writer for ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair.
  • Rosewood Special Free School, in Southampton. A special school for children who have Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities.
  • Tiger Primary School, in Maidstone, Kent, where all children will learn Mandarin and a musical instrument.
  • Perry Beeches II The Free School, in Birmingham, is a new 11-18 Free School set up by an existing outstanding secondary school, Perry Beeches The Academy. The academy’s head, Liam Nolan, turned round the school’s performance from 21% of pupils achieving five A* to C GCSEs including English and maths in 2007 to 77% this year.
  • London Academy of Excellence, in Newham, east London. This is a sixth-form free school which is being run by eight leading independent schools including Brighton College and Eton College.

Of the new free schools opening this September:

  • 19 are primary schools, 19 are secondary schools and seven are all-age schools. There is one 14-to-19 school and one 16-to-19 school. Five are alternative provision schools - the first free schools of their type - and three are special schools.
  • The schools are spread across England. They are primarily concentrated in areas of deprivation or areas where there is a shortage of school places. 25 of the 55 schools are located in the most deprived 25% of communities in the country. 33 of the schools are in areas where there is need for more school places.
  • 12 have been set up by teachers, 19 by parent or community groups, 9 by charities and 13 are set up by existing education providers. Two existing independent schools will join the state sector as free schools.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

Every child should have the choice to go to an excellent local school. These new schools have been set up by idealistic people who are determined to give parents the kind of choice that only the rich can currently afford. The first 24 free schools are enormously popular and I expect this second wave to be equally successful.

Liam Nolan, executive head teacher of Perry Beeches II, Birmingham, said:

This is a fabulous opportunity for us to expand our brand of success into a new community and to work with a new group of young people in the heart of Birmingham. This is one of the beauties of free schools, that the very best schools can extend their outstanding practice.

Marina Gutierrez, Chair of the Bilingual Primary School Trust, Brighton, said:

I am delighted that this project has now become a reality and that Brighton & Hove’s children will have bilingualism as an educational choice.

Free schools have proved hugely popular with parents. All 24 which opened last year have filled, or almost filled, all their places for this year. Many have expanded to meet demand and many have large waiting lists.

New York charter schools, one of the inspirations behind free schools, have been shown to substantially narrow the attainment gap between rich and poor - by 86% in maths and 66% in English. In Chicago they halve the achievement gap between inner-city students and their wealthier suburban counterparts.

In England academies, which have the same freedoms as free schools, improve at a faster rate to state secondary schools - between 2010 and 2011 the proportion of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at A* to C including English and maths rose by 5.7 per cent in academies, compared to 3.1 per cent in state secondary schools.

This press notice relates to England only.

 Notes to editors

  1. The list of free schools opening in September 2012:
Name Location Type<
Al Madinah Free School  Derby  All through 
Alban City Free School  St Albans Primary 
ARK Bolingbroke Wandsworth Secondary 
Atherton Free School  Wigan Secondary
Avanti House  Harrow  All through 
Barrow 1618  Barrow  Primary 
Beccles Free School  Carlton Colville, Suffolk  Secondary
Becket Keys Church School  Brentwood Secondary 
Bedford Free School  Bedford  Secondary
Bilingual Primary School Brighton &Hove  Primary 
CET Primary  Tower Hamlets  Primary 
CET Primary  Westminster  Primary 
City Gateway  Tower Hamlets  AP 
City of Peterborough Academy  Peterborough Special 
Cobham Free School  Cobham Primary 
Corby Technical School Corby Secondary 
Cramlington Learning Village Cramlington, Northum’land Primary 
Derby Pride Academy Derby  AP 
Dixons Music Primary  Bradford  Primary 
Dixons Trinity Academy Bradford  Secondary
East Birmingham Network  Birmingham  AP 
Emmanuel Community School Waltham Forest Primary 
Enfield Heights Academy Enfield Primary 
Europa School UK Culham, Oxfordshire All through 
Everton in the Community  Liverpool  AP 
Gateway Primary Free School  Tilbury Primary 
Grindon Hall  Sunderland All through 
Harpenden Free School  Harpenden Primary 
Harris Free School  Peckham Primary 
Hartsbrook E-ACT Free School  Haringey Primary 
Hatfield Community Primary School Hatfield Primary 
IES Breckland Free School  Brandon, Suffolk  Secondary
Kingfisher Hall Primary Academy Enfield Primary 
King's Leadership Academy  Warrington Secondary 
Lighthouse School Leeds  Special 
London Academy of Excellence  Newham 16-19 
Nishkam School Trust  Birmingham  Secondary 
Oakbank School  Wokingham Secondary 
Perry Beeches II  Birmingham  Secondary 
Reach Academy  Feltham All through 
Rimon Jewish Primary School  Golders Green  Primary 
Rosewood School  Southampton  Special 
Rural Enterprise Academy  Penkridge, Staffs  14-19 
Sandymoor School  Runcorn Secondary 
Saxmundham Free School  Saxmundham, Suffolk  Secondary 
School 21  Newham All through 
Southwark Free School  Southwark Primary 
St Michael's Catholic School  Camborne, Cornwall  Secondary
Steiner Academy Frome All through 
Stone Soup Learns Nottingham  AP
Tauheedul Free School Blackburn Secondary
The Greenwich Free School  Greenwich Secondary
The Hawthorne's Free School Liverpool Secondary
Tiger Primary School  Maidstone Primary
Wapping High School  Wapping Secondary
  1. Groups that were successful in applying to open a Free School went through a robust process to make sure they were suitable and capable to run a school. They had to:
    • provide evidence of demand for the particular new local school they wanted to set up;
    • set out in detail the curriculum the school would offer, the type of teachers it would recruit, and how the school would run its pupil admissions to make sure they are fair;
    • develop robust plans for how the school planned to run its finances (which then were scrutinised to make sure the school was financially viable);
    • secure an appropriate site for the school that provided value for money for the taxpayer; and
    • be CRB checked and undergo in-depth vetting by the Department’s Due Diligence Unit.
  2. Like other state-funded schools, free schools are inspected by Ofsted, will have their exam and test results published and will have to teach a broad and balanced curriculum. Action will be taken if results slip or if teaching isn’t up to scratch. Free schools also have to abide by the same rules for pupil admissions as other schools - making sure that these are fair and inclusive of children from different backgrounds.

  3. Applications to open free schools in 2014 (or later) must be submitted to the Department for Education between Monday 17 December 2012 and Friday 4 January 2013.

  4. Further details on the Free Schools programme can be found online at http://www.education.gov.uk/freeschools.

DfE enquiries

Published 3 September 2012