Press release

Prime Minister: we will not waver in free schools pledge

18 new free schools have been announced today in the first wave of free schools for this Parliament, providing 9,000 new school places.

  • First wave of free schools to be announced this Parliament - and pledge to deliver 2 waves of new schools every year until 2020
  • The 18 new schools announced today bring the total places created by free schools to 236,000 - making it the most successful new schools programme

Prime Minister David Cameron vowed today (2 September 2015) he will ‘not waver’ in his commitment to open 500 new free schools over the next 5 years - as he announced the first wave to be approved this Parliament and pledged to deliver 2 waves of new schools every year until 2020.

The government’s commitment to open 500 free schools over the next 5 years will create 270,000 school places across the country - giving parents more choice while challenging existing schools to up their game.

Today, the first 18 projects of this Parliament have had the green light - creating more than 9,000 places across the country and giving more families the choice of an excellent education for their children than ever before. They will join the 252 already open and the 52 new free schools opening up their doors as schools head back this week. These will bring the total number of free school places created since 2010 to more than 236,000 - making this policy the most successful new schools programme, with schools being created more quickly than ever before.

500 more free schools

The government has committed to opening 500 more free schools in this Parliament, creating good school places in communities across the country. To achieve this, 2 waves of schools will be announced every year up to 2020, with application deadlines in March and September. The latest application window to set up a free school opens on 28 September and runs until 7 October, with pre-application registration opening today.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan today called on more groups to step forward, invest in the next generation and reap the rewards that opening a free school can bring. To help them do that she has committed to streamlining the process for existing high performing schools and encouraging businesses, charities, cultural and sporting bodies to enter the programme.

Find out more about how to set up a free school.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

As a ‘one nation’ government we are clear that every family should have access to a great local school and every child should get the very best education - and free schools are a crucial part of that aim. The aim of this policy is crystal clear - to increase the number of good and outstanding school places so that more parents have the security of knowing their child is getting a great education.

Today’s announcement shows that we will not waver in pressing ahead with our plans to open 500 more of these innovative and exciting schools over the next 5 years, creating 270,000 places, delivering an excellent education and giving parents across the country real choice for their children.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

The free schools programme has sent out the message loud and clear, that parents should never have to settle for anything less than the best for their child. Right across the country, these innovative, community led schools are helping to fulfil our ‘one nation’ commitment to educational excellence for every child.

We know that free schools don’t just give parents greater choice, they also force existing schools to up their game. Today’s news sends a clear message that we are committed to extending this unprecedented level of choice to more parents than ever before.

The 18 new schools announced today include a number that will be set up by teachers themselves, showing the programme is putting power back in the hands of those who know children best. These include Solihull Alternative Provision Academy, set up by 3 headteachers of high-performing schools in Solihull, West Midlands, which will help transform the lives of local children who have fallen out of mainstream schooling.

Other innovative schools due to be created include:

  • XP East, a new secondary school for 350 children in Doncaster. XP East will have a deliberately-small campus feel, like its heavily-oversubscribed sister school, the XP School, and is influenced by a number of charter schools in America
  • Gipsy Hill Secondary School, which will provide a classical and aspirational education for up to 1,600 children in South London. Opening in 2017, the school will educate children based around the classical ‘trivium’ - a system of thinking developed as far back as Ancient Greece that sees logic, grammar and rhetoric as the foundations of learning
  • CAPA College, a specialist performing arts college in Leeds through which pupils can look forward to the opportunity to perform in world class venues, such as the Royal Albert Hall
  • Piper Hill Vocational Learning Free School, a special school in Wythenshawe, Cheshire, which will help children with severe learning difficulties and autism spectrum disorder to improve their independence and employability skills through a range of courses that include horticulture and animal welfare

Free schools

Free schools are brand new schools set up by parents, teachers, charities, academy sponsors and existing schools in response to demand from the local community, either where there is a shortage of places, or where the parents are not happy with the places on offer.

The new schools announced today, on top of the 252 already opened, and the 98 in the pipeline, will meet the growing demand of parents for more excellent local schools with high standards and strong discipline.

74% of open free schools are located in areas where there was a need for more school places and around half are in the 30% most deprived communities in the country. They are also more likely to be rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted than other schools - and research has shown they are helping to raise standards in neighbouring schools by introducing fresh ideas and competition.

The free schools programme is also transforming the lives of many of society’s most disadvantaged and disaffected children. 17% of all free schools are dedicated to special needs or alternative provision, giving more help to those most in need.

Policy Exchange research shows that as well as providing an excellent education to their own pupils, they are also associated with improvements in local poorly-performing schools. And more than two-thirds of free school heads say they are having a positive impact on schools in their local area - driving up standards and ensuring more parents have a great school in their neighbourhood.

Building on the success of the programme, the government is now allowing free school applicants to apply for nurseries as part of their bid. This is all part of meeting the government’s pledge to provide flexible, high-quality childcare that allows parents to return to work.

Today’s approved free schools

Rugby Free Secondary School, Rugby, Warwickshire

Rugby Free Secondary School will be opening in the town in September 2016. It is being set up by the trust behind Rugby Free Primary School, which opens in September 2015. The new, mixed, secondary will provide 1,260 much-needed school places for 11- to 19-year-olds. It will be a comprehensive school with an academic curriculum that will specialise in a combination of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and music.

John Donne Primary Free School, Peckham, London

Proposed by the heavily over-subscribed John Donne Primary School (JDPS), judged to be ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in October 2011, JDPS in Peckham will offer the same excellent education that is on offer at the parent school. JDPS already serves a vibrant and diverse community, meeting the aspirations of parents. Opening in 2017, this school will build on the continuing success of JDPS and will provide additional school places for almost 500 children, including a 60 place nursery.

Catch22 Northamptonshire Academy, Northampton

The Catch22 Northamptonshire Academy will be a new alternative provision school for 4- to 16-year-olds in Northampton. Opening in 2016, the new school will provide 100 much needed places for children who are struggling in a mainstream setting. The school will be led by Catch22 Multi-Academy Trust, an established provider of alternative provision that already runs four schools in Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Buckinghamshire and Bristol. All these schools have been judged to be good by Ofsted within the last 2 years. The new school will offer personalised pathways to its pupils to help reintegrate them back in to mainstream provision. The school is supported by Northamptonshire county council, which sees it as a valuable contribution to alternative provision in the area.

Corby Free Special School, Corby, Northamptonshire

The Maplefields Teaching School Alliance is a leading special needs provider with all of its 5 member schools judged to be ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. The Corby Free Special School will address the need for more special school places in Corby, where parents and their children often have to travel significant distances to access a suitable education. This bespoke school for up to 100 local pupils, provided by highly experienced and incredibly passionate educationalists, will help to transform the lives of many children and their families in north Northamptonshire.

The Swan School, Oxford

To meet the increasing need for secondary school places as Oxford’s population grows, Cherwell School, judged to be ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in January 2008, will be opening The Swan School, a secondary school in 2017. The school will offer access to the highest quality education and aim to raise levels of attainment beyond that achieved by other schools in the city. As a national teaching school, Cherwell School already supports the training and development of excellent teachers within Oxford and further afield. Supported by Oxford city council, this new free school will provide 880 pupils with a strong academic curriculum in a supportive and challenging environment.

Piper Hill Vocational Learning Free School, Wythenshawe, Cheshire

The Piper Hill Learning Trust, sponsor of Piper Hill High School, judged to be ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in March 2013, will be opening a unique vocational special free school in 2016. The Piper Hill Vocational Learning Free School will provide 25 much needed places for 11- to 19-year-olds with severe learning difficulties and autism spectrum disorder. The school’s focus will be on developing personal independence, employability skills and preparing these young people for the world of work. Hospitality, catering, horticulture, and animal welfare will provide real life work experience for pupils. The school, in Wythenshawe, will primarily serve the central and south Manchester areas.

Bury St Edmunds Technical Academy, Suffolk

Bury St Edmunds Technical Academy will open its doors in 2017. It will be led by the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust, which runs Bury St Edmunds County Upper School, judged to be ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in September 2013. The new school will focus on science and engineering and pupils can look forward to work placements and work based projects through the trust’s partnerships with a range of local employers.

Saint Anne’s High School for Girls, Luton, Bedfordshire

Proposed by a group of local teachers, Saint Anne’s High School for Girls will be a secondary school for Luton that will provide a calm, caring and nurturing environment where hard work and exemplary behaviour are the norm. Opening in 2017, the school’s focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) will empower students with the knowledge and skills to become informed citizens in an increasingly scientific and technological society. In an area where the majority of pupils come from ethnic minority backgrounds, the school will provide 750 students with the opportunity to excel academically, and gain skills and experiences needed to make informed choices about their future.

XP East, Doncaster, south Yorkshire

The XP Schools Trust will open their second secondary school, XP East, in September 2017. The new 350 place school will be located next to the existing XP School in Doncaster in a deliberate move to create a small campus feel for both schools. The XP schools are based on an innovative approach to learning developed in certain charter schools in America in which subjects are taught through project-based learning. The XP School opened in 2014 and is proving so popular that there are 2 applications for each place. XP East will bring greater choice for parents and help to raise standards in Doncaster.

Solihull Alternative Provision Academy, Solihull, West Midlands

In response to a clear need for places, a group of headteachers in Solihull, whose 3 schools have all been judged to be ‘good’ by Ofsted, have united to establish the Solihull Alternative Provision Academy. This new school will open in 2017 with places for 90 pupils. The school will cater for pupils who are currently disengaged from education, and are struggling to achieve in a traditional secondary school setting. The school will provide individualised support for pupils in a smaller school environment. Whilst the school will focus on academic rigour it will also provide the opportunity to follow a more vocational route. The school will be accessible to children across the whole of Solihull and beyond, but its key focus will be to serve the children attending schools located in the south of the borough.

Lime Tree High School, Reigate, Surrey

Opening in 2017, Lime Tree High School will provide 900 high-quality places in Reigate. The trust’s existing local school, the Lime Tree Primary, judged to be ‘good’ by Ofsted in May 2015, is already a popular choice with parents. The secondary expertise behind this free school will comes from the Glyn School, judged to be ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in May 2012, where pupils achieve results that have consistently exceeded the national and local averages. This exciting new option for local parents will make a valuable contribution to the diversity of local provision and the raising of pupils’ attainment and ambitions in Reigate.

CAPA College, Leeds, Yorkshire

CAPA College, which will open its doors in 2017, will be a specialist performing arts college based in Leeds. It will be led by the Wakefield Diocesan Academies Trust behind CAPA sixth form in Wakefield, judged to be outstanding by Ofsted. The new college will provide young people throughout Yorkshire with an exciting and diverse curriculum, and pupils can look forward to working with a range of organisations across the arts industry to help prepare them for their future careers. Pupils will also have the opportunity to perform in world class venues, such as the Royal Albert Hall.

Gipsy Hill Secondary School, South London

In response to the wishes of local parents, the Gipsy Hill Secondary School in Lambeth will provide a classical and aspirational education. Run by the Gipsy Hill Federation, which already operates five successful primary schools in the area, all judged to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, this secondary school will ensure a seamless education for over 1600 students. Opening in 2017, the school will deliver a wide ranging curriculum, with strong pastoral support and a relentless focus on performance and success to meet the existing and growing needs of its community.

MacIntyre Special Free School, Rugby, Warwickshire

MacIntyre Special Free School will open in Rugby in September 2017. It will be a special school providing 80 places for children and young people between the ages of 9 and 19 with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties and conditions on the autistic spectrum, with support tailored to the needs of the individual children. The group behind the school, MacIntyre Academies Trust, runs 2 other academies, Endeavour Academy in Oxford and the newly-opened Discovery Academy in Nuneaton.

The Bridge AP Free School, Medway, Kent

With the strong support of the local authority, the Bridge AP Free School will provide a dynamic personalised curriculum for 5- to 11-year-olds with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties in Medway. Set on the Delce Academy campus, judged to be ‘good’ by Ofsted in July 2010, in the heart of Medway, the new school will open in 2017 as an evolution of the existing pilot to provide primary education for 40 children who find it difficult to cope with mainstream schools. The Bridge will secure progress and success for each of its learners to ensure that each child is prepared for the next stage of their education when they return to mainstream education.

Norton Hill Primary School, Midsomer Norton, Somerset

Norton Hill Primary School will provide 420 places for 4- to 11-year-olds in Midsomer Norton, opening in 2017. The school will be led by the Midsomer Norton Schools Partnership, an established provider of primary and secondary academies, which already runs four schools in Bath, Bristol and Cheshire. All these schools have been judged to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted within the last 2 years. The school will aim to develop key skills in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Herts International Christian School, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Herts International Christian School will open its doors for up to 630 pupils aged 4- to 11 in Welwyn Garden City in 2017. Specialising in Spanish from as early as the primary phase, the school will bring greater choice for local parents. Pupils can look forward to a diverse enrichment programme, from traditional chess and drama, through to more contemporary street dance.

Yavneh Primary School, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire

In response to strong parental demand, the Yavneh Primary School will provide 420 high quality places in Borehamwood. The new free school will be a Jewish faith school set up by the ‘outstanding’ Yavneh College Academy Trust. The trust is seeking to establish a primary school built upon the same high expectations and educational excellence of Yavneh College which achieves GCSE results significantly above both local and national averages and is the highest performing non-selective secondary state school in the UK for A levels.

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Published 2 September 2015
Last updated 2 September 2015 + show all updates
  1. Added a list of free schools approved today.
  2. First published.