Deadline looms for this year's Free Schools

01 Feb 2011

 Only a handful of Free Schools will open in September 2011 - with slightly more currently in the pipeline to open in 2012. 

The government has just announced that - from 11th February - it will no longer accept proposals for Free Schools to open this year.

It said schools that have already received approval to develop their business cases for 2011 opening   are "already working to unprecedented timescales". 

It added that any other proposals would "find it extremely challenging to be able to successfully open a school this year". Acknowledging the difficulty of starting a school from scratch, it said: "the work involved in securing and developing a site, appointing a principal and staff, and obtaining sufficient parental interest is very significant". 

So far only 35 proposed schools have been given permission to go on to the business case and plan  stage. Of these just 8 (see box below) have moved to the 'pre-opening' stage. Some of these are aiming at 2011, others at 2012.


Stour Valley Community School Suffolk
ARK Conway Primary Academy Hammersmith and Fulham
Discovery New School West Sussex
Etz Chaim Jewish Primary School Barnet
The Free School, Norwich Norfolk
I-Foundation Primary School Leicester City
St Luke’s Church of England Primary School Camden
Woodpecker Hall Primary Academy Enfield

 The above are a disparate group from groups with different aims. Some are faith schools. Others have arisen out of dissatisfaction with local provision or the threat of closure to existing schools. 

For example, Stour Valley in Suffolk has emerged from the closure of an existing middle school under the LA's reorganisation plans. 

Etz Chaim is planned as a one-form Jewish primary in Mill Hill, north London. Another faith school is the I-Foundation which will be a Hindu school, but will also offer places purely on a distance criteria.

The Discovery New School is  planned to be a Montessori-based primary school in Crawley, West Sussex.

ARK Conway will be run by the ARK charity which runs several academies. It will be non-denominational.

Woodpecker Hall is a proposal driven by the headteacher of a nearby primary academy who was inspired by the Charter Schools in the USA.

The Free School in Norwich will be a 4-11 primary, developed by teachers and parents unhappy with the lack of child-care, which will offer all-year extended services.


User Comments

Iftikhar Ahmad - 01 Feb 2011

Free Our Schools

There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam’s teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children like discipline, structure and boundaries. Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand their needs and demands.

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