Press release

More than 100 free schools applications approved

Michael Gove gives green light to 102 more free schools that will create more than 50,000 extra school places when full.

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

Michael Gove meets free school students
Education Secretary Michael Gove speaks to students in a maths class at Greenwich Free School.

Education Secretary Michael Gove today approved 102 new free school applications to open in 2014 and beyond, delivering around 50,000 new school places.

There are already 81 open free schools, with a further 109 aiming to open in September and beyond. In total, all currently approved free schools would deliver 130,000 new school places when full.

Free schools are state-funded schools independent of local authority control. They are run by teachers - not local or central government bureaucrats. They have the freedom to decide the length of the school day and term, the curriculum, and how they reward their teachers and spend their money.

Many of the free schools approved today will be based in areas of deprivation, or where there is a shortage of school places, like the schools open or approved before them:

  • 72% of all free school approvals and 91% of primary approvals will go towards meeting basic need. Ninety per cent of mainstream schools (excluding 14 to 19 schools) are in areas of basic need or deprivation
  • More than half (64%) of the mainstream schools are expected to be located in the 50% most deprived communities in the country. 44% of the mainstream schools announced today are expected to be located in the 30% most deprived communities in the country

Among the free school proposals approved today are:

The Jane Austen College in Norwich

A secondary school for 1,100 students that will specialise in English. It has been proposed by inspirational headteacher, Rachel De Souza. The school will have a focus on cultural literacy and traditional academic subjects, with every pupil studying a language until 16 years of age, with the option to study Latin.

National Autistic Society (NAS) Free Schools

NAS has had 2 schools for children and young people with autism approved today. One, for 60 pupils, will be in east Cheshire and the other, for 78 pupils, will be in Lambeth. This builds on NAS’s first free school that is due to open in Reading in September.

East London Academy of Music (ELAM)

A music school for 16- to 19-year-olds in Tower Hamlets. The school is the brainchild of Will Kennard, one half of production duo Chase and Status, who wants to give talented students from deprived areas the opportunity to be successful.

Will brought together a group of talented and innovative teachers and professionals with experience of education. With the support of the music industry they created a vision for ELAM, a school where any pupil with potential can realise success. Sir Nick Williams, former headteacher of the BRIT School, is supporting the school.

North Somerset Enterprise and Technology College in Weston-Super-Mare

A 700-pupil 14 to 19 free school proposed by the local Weston FE College. The free school will deliver a full curriculum, with an emphasis on STEM subjects. At KS4, all students will be entered for the English Baccalaureate and additional GCSEs, or will combine their core subjects with vocational level 2 subjects.

In total, 70 of the applications approved today are from teachers, existing schools, and educational organisations. Twenty-four of the approved free schools – 8 special free schools and 16 alternative provision free schools – will serve the most vulnerable children and young people. This adds to the 5 special and 12 alternative provision free schools that are on course to open from September 2013, and Harmonize Academy, an alternative provision free school, that opened in April this year. Of the 81 free schools already open, 6 are alternative provision free schools and 3 are special free schools.

There are fewer schools approved this year with a faith designation or ethos. Fifteen will be faith designated, compared with 20 last year. Ten will have a faith ethos, compared with 13 last year.

Today’s announcement underlines the continuing demand for free schools. More local communities want a different or better school to meet the needs of their children and to help drive up standards in their local area.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

There are many innovators in local communities set on raising standards of education for their children. I am delighted to approve so many of their high-quality plans to open a free school.

Free schools are extremely popular with parents and are delivering strong discipline and teaching excellence across the country.

The groups will now finalise their plans in readiness to open from September 2014. Chief among their tasks will be to secure their site. The department has co-developed a website - - with the Cabinet Office that lists all surplus government property available to buy or rent, including those suitable for free schools.

Changes to planning laws at the end of May 2013 will also make it easier for free schools to move into their preferred site.

The list of approved schools will be published on the department’s website. Notable examples include:

Perry Beeches III in Birmingham

This secondary free school is the latest to be set up by the excellent Perry Beeches Academy Trust. The trust has a strong track record with their first school, Perry Beeches I improving pupils’ key stage 4 attainment from 20% 5 or more A* to C including English and maths in 2006 to 75% by 2011.

This proposal aims to provide an outstanding traditional education, with a strong emphasis on behaviour, academic achievement, and smart appearance of pupils.

Perry Beeches has links with a number of key figures in Birmingham who will teach students about the city’s rich history and enrich their school experience.

Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Blackburn

It is one of the oldest independent schools in Lancashire and will join the non-selective state sector. The proposal is supported by Jack Straw.

The ethos of the school will be maintained through high aspirations allied with academic breadth and challenge. It will be based on the national curriculum, (and in the foundation stage on the early years statutory framework), with a strong emphasis on developing high levels of literacy and numeracy.

There will be a wide programme of enrichment for all students delivered by well-trained specialist teachers, with 64% possessing a 2.1 or first class degree. The school’s rich co-curricular life will be maintained through a newly designed extended day and on-going Saturday sporting programme.

Liverpool Institute of the Performing Arts (LIPA) Free School in Liverpool

This will be a creative arts primary free school established by LIPA and Edge Hill University. LIPA was co-founded in 1996 by its lead patron, Sir Paul McCartney, and principal, Mark Featherstone-Witty.

The LIPA Free School will immerse children in the creative arts to enrich teaching and learning in the early development of literacy and numeracy. Younger pupils will use the art work at Tate Liverpool as the stimulus for creative writing and older pupils will work with the Everyman Theatre and use their ticket sales data as a real life maths resource.

XP School in Doncaster

This is a teacher-led proposal drawing on the practices of charter schools in the USA. XP will aim to prepare pupils to be successful in the adult world by facilitating authentic, real world experiences. As well as mastery of subject knowledge, the pupils will gain skills critical to readiness for further/higher education and lifelong success, such as; literacy, numeracy problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, persistence toward excellence and active citizenship.

All projects will be rigorously mapped to the national curriculum in terms of standards, content and skills at both key stage 3 (KS3), and an appropriate programme of GCSEs and A levels. This will be tracked across each project, and across each year, to prevent gaps and ensure breadth and balance.

The Family School in London

This will be a 5 to 14 alternative provision free school for children with complex psychological, family and mental health problems. Combining teaching with elements from the most up-to-date CAMHS practice (including the use of multi-family groups), the Family School will both ease behavioural and mental health-related blocks to learning and provide learning opportunities that will keep pace, day-by-day, with the pupil’s ability to learn and achieve.

A central feature of the programme will be that children will remain pupils, in a school context that is non-stigmatising. Treatments, whether individual, family or multi-family in nature, will for the most part be delivered either in the Family School itself or in the mainstream school.

East London Academy of Music (ELAM) in Tower Hamlets

This is a teacher-led proposal for post-16 students. ELAM will work in conjunction with the British music industry to educate through the music. The school will bring world class music provision to the heart of east London.

The proposal is supported by Sir Nick Williams, the former principal of the BRIT School, who will be a governor of ELAM. ELAM will develop young musical talents into industry-ready professionals. It is designed to specifically improve the outcomes of young people from the diverse backgrounds found within these east London.

North Somerset Enterprise and Technology College in Weston-Super-Mare

This proposal is for 14- to 19-year-olds from all backgrounds and abilities, who can benefit from the partnership with employers and universities. Its focus will be on high-quality teaching with an emphasis on STEM subjects. Student will benefit from practical sessions and enrichment activities and apply them to real life situations. Work placements will be built into their timetable so they gain valuable experience and skills which will give them an advantage in future job and university applications.

The ethos of the college is designed to prepare students for the world of work and higher education. It will operate in business hours and a longer working year of 39 weeks. Students will wear business dress and work on live-project briefs set by employers.

The Jane Austen College in Norwich

This secondary free school will specialise in English. It has been proposed by an existing academy sponsor, East Norfolk Academies Trust, led by Rachel De Souza, its CEO and an inspirational school leader with a track record in transforming schools.

The college will follow the national curriculum, with an emphasis on traditional academic subjects, and pupils will take GCSEs and the English Baccalaureate. There will be a focus on high academic achievement and cultural literacy and pupils will have the option to study Latin. The college will have a joint sixth-form with the Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form Free School, which is opening in September 2013.

The National Autistic Society (NAS) Free Schools in Lambeth and Cheshire East

These are 2 proposals from the NAS for 4- to 19-year-olds with autism. The NAS already has a free school set to open in Reading in September 2013.

They will focus on core subjects - English, maths, science and ICT – and will offer GCSEs and A Levels, as well as AQA and ASDAN functional skills qualifications. Pupils will also be taught life skills and social communication.

The Seva School in Coventry

This will be a co-educational, Sikh school in Coventry for 4- to 16-year-olds. The proposer group, the Sevak Education Trust was formed by a group of parents and community members who have lived and studied in Coventry. The group aims to deliver excellent educational development through a framework supporting the wellbeing of all pupils.

They plan to follow the national curriculum in English and science at key stages 1 and 2. They will deliver the ‘Math in Focus’ curriculum - the Singaporean model used to great effect by Ark Schools. At key stage 3 they will deliver an ‘enhanced national curriculum’ over 2 years which will allow them to focus on GCSEs (including the EBacc) and BTEC courses for 3 years. The school will also offer catch up sessions for pupils who fall behind and Saturday enrichment and extra-curricular activities for all pupils

Notes to editors

  • This link will take you to a list of all free schools in the pre-opening stage
  • As of 22 May 2013:
    • 24 free schools opened in September 2011.
    • 55 free schools opened in September 2012.
    • 1 opened in January 2013 – St Mary’s Dilwyn CofE Primary School
    • 1 opened in April 2013 – Harmonize Free School
    • a further 109 are aiming open this September and beyond.
  • after a rigorous application process, including having to demonstrate clear parental demand, 102 groups were successful in their application and interview and move into the pre-opening stage
  • all applicant groups were required to provide details of the individuals involved in the project, and these individuals undergo checks carried out by the Department for Education’s Due Diligence Unit throughout the entire approval process. More about the approval process can be found on the free schools pages of the website
  • of the 102 free schools approved to open from 2014 onwards:
    • 78 are mainstream schools
    • 8 are special schools
    • 16 are alternative provision
    • 33 are primary
    • 36 are secondary
    • 11 are all through schools
    • 5 are 14 to 19 schools
    • 5 are 16 to 19 schools
    • 12 are other age groups
  • Types of schools and proposers:
    • 70 are being set up by teachers, existing schools, and educational organisations
    • 32 are being set up by parents, community, charity and other groups
    • of the 102 schools approved, 25 characterise themselves as faith schools. Of the 25, 15 will be designated faith schools, and will be able to select a maximum of 50% of their pupils on the basis of faith
  • The regional breakdown of all 102 free schools is as follows:
    • East Midlands – 5
    • East of England – 9
    • London – 46
    • North West – 11
    • South East – 11
    • South West – 3
    • West Midlands – 8
    • Yorkshire and Humber – 9
  • The groups will now work to make their schools a reality. This includes undertaking a statutory consultation in their local area and taking steps to recruit their school’s principal designate, with the final aim of securing a funding agreement with the Secretary of State – which will allow the school to open
  • Capital funding for these projects is still to be decided
  • The next application window to open a free school will open in September 2013

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Published 22 May 2013