Press release

Parents flock to free schools

A survey of free schools carried out by the Department for Education shows that they have attracted almost 3 applications for every place.

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

Children reading an atlas

New figures released today show that free schools are proving hugely popular with parents - attracting almost 3 applications for every available place.

The department surveyed all open free schools for data on admissions. Of the 110 schools that responded, 95 received more applications from parents than they have places available for the next academic year. Overall, these schools received 23,542 applications for 8,755 places - an average of 2.7 applications per place.

The figures show that more than 9 out of 10 primary free schools received more applications than they had places. The West London Free School Primary, which opened this year, reported receiving more than 6 applications for each of its 60 places.

Schools Minister Lord Nash said:

These figures show that free schools remain hugely popular with parents.

It goes to show that if you give local communities and exceptional school leaders the freedom to establish high-quality and innovative schools that raise standards, parents will want a place for their child.

The free schools policy is just one part of our education reform package which is creating more good schools, and more good school places.

Natalie Evans, Director of the New Schools Network said:

Free schools are proving increasingly popular with parents across the country, either because there simply aren’t enough local places or because they are not happy with what is currently on offer. This latest data shows how in a short space of time free schools have already become the first choice for many parents.

Free schools are being set up by teachers, parents and charities where there is parental demand and the majority are in areas of deprivation. They are proving hugely popular with parents.

For example:

  • The West London Free School in Hammersmith received more than 1,100 applications for its 120 places. The West London Free School Primary received 374 applications for its 60 reception places
  • St Luke’s Church of England School in north west London received 103 applications for its 15 reception places
  • The William Perkin C of E High School in Ealing received almost 900 applications for its 180 places
  • Perry Beeches II in Birmingham received almost 500 applicants for 100 year 7 places
  • Parents submitted 468 applications for the 108 places at Batley Grammar School in west Yorkshire
  • Bradford Girls’ Grammar School received 500 applications for its 144 places across reception and year 7
  • The King’s Leadership Academy Warrington received 275 applications for 120 places
  • The Reach Academy Feltham received 264 applications for 60 places
  • ARK Atwood Primary Academy in North London received 227 applications for 60 places

Sir Iain Hall, the Founder of the King’s Leadership Academy Warrington recently rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted, said:

We are thrilled by the number of applications we have received for places at The King’s Leadership Academy this year. Our first class curriculum, teaching and assessment and smaller class sizes are tailor-made to allow our students to excel. This demonstrates that there is a real demand from parents for the excellent quality education we provide.

Co-founder of the West London Free School and the West London Free School Primary, Toby Young said:

I’m delighted that our schools are so over-subscribed. It proves that our traditional approach is exactly what local parents want.

Ed Vainker, Principal at the Reach Academy Feltham recently rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, said:

We are delighted with the start the school has made. We are offering the community something different at Reach - a longer school day, a smaller school community and a curriculum focused on depth before breadth. This, combined with our high academic expectations, excellent teaching and strong culture, explains why the school has been so popular with local parents and secured an outstanding judgment in our first Ofsted inspection.

Liam Nolan, Executive Principal at Perry Beeches II in Birmingham, said:

At all the Perry Beeches schools we offer a broad, balanced and dynamic curriculum to the local community. We were thrilled to have received almost 5 applications for each of our places this year.

Daniel Upfield, Headteacher of ARK Atwood Primary Academy, recently rated Outstanding by Ofsted said:

Our school is popular because parents want their children to have the best possible start to their school life. According to Ofsted’s parent view survey, 100% of parents responding would recommend the school to their friends. With support from the ARK network, and through the hard work of staff, parents and pupils, Atwood has become a successful and thriving school. We believe every child can achieve their ambitions and we want to be a happy school where children look forward to coming to school every day.

Notes to editors:

  • The Department for Education obtained figures for 110 of the 140 mainstream free schools which were open at the start of the academic year in 2013

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Published 14 April 2014
Last updated 15 April 2014 + show all updates
  1. Ministerial quote added.
  2. First published.