More than 130 new free schools to create more good places

There are 69,000 places to be created in biggest wave of new free school approvals this Parliament

Thousands of new school places will be created across the country following the largest wave of free schools approvals this Parliament, giving more parents the choice of a good school place for their child.

Today (12 April 2017) the Department for Education has approved applications for 131 new schools, creating more than 69,000 places. These schools will be led by high-performing institutions, including a grammar-school-led multi-academy trust (MAT) and the largest state boarding school in the country, demonstrating how existing high-performing schools can help raise attainment more widely, as set out in the government’s education proposals.

Free schools are one of the highest performing groups of non-selective state schools, with 29% of those inspected rated outstanding by Ofsted. Since 2014, more than 80% of mainstream free schools have been approved in areas where there was a need for more school places, while others are opened in response to parental demand to create competition and drive up standards where existing provision is not adequate.

Today’s approvals build on the government’s strong record in creating more good school places. Already, there are 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools compared to 2010. The new approvals also demonstrate the government’s determination to tap into the expertise that already exists within the school system to ensure standards continue to rise.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said:

“We need schools that can bring out the best in every single child no matter where they’re growing up, how much their parents earn, or however different their talents are.

“That’s why these new schools are so important – they give us the school places we need for the future, and they also give parents more choices to find a great school place in their area that’s right for their child.”

New free school proposals approved today include:

  • Stone Lodge Academy – a new secondary school for 11- to 19-year-olds in Dartford, proposed by Endeavour Multi Academy Trust. The trust already runs 2 highly successful grammar schools and will use their expertise running selective schools to open a new non-selective free school
  • Barton Court Academy Trust Free School – proposed by the Ofsted-outstanding Barton Court Grammar School, a new non-selective free school providing 1,050 school places for 11- to 19-year-olds in Canterbury
  • The Flagship School – a parent-led special school to provide 56 places for 9- to 6-year-old pupils in Hastings, which was identified as an opportunity area earlier this year
  • City Enterprise Academy – proposed by the successful City Learning Trust, the school will provide 100 much-needed alternative provision places in Stoke-on-Trent, which was identified as an opportunity area earlier this year
  • Sapientia Primary Prep School – proposed by The Sapientia Education Trust, which runs Wymondham College – the largest state boarding school in England. The school for 5- to 11-year-olds will benefit from the expertise and facilities the trust has to offer, and provide 450 primary places in Norfolk
  • School 21 Campus and School 21 Sugar House – 2 new schools for 5-to 16-year-olds in Newham, East London, creating over 2,400 places. The schools will be operated by the trust behind School 21, which has been rated outstanding by Ofsted
  • Rushey Mead Free School – will provide 1,200 new secondary places in Leicester. It will be opened by the trust behind the Rushey Mead Academy – rated outstanding by Ofsted and consistently one of the highest performing schools in Leicester
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124 free schools have opened since 2015, with a further 376 set to open by 2020 – including the schools announced today – which means the government is on track to meet its manifesto commitment of opening 500 more new free schools by September 2020.

As part of its work to open more free schools the government has created a new body – LocatED. The organisation is made up of experienced property specialists to help speed up the process of acquiring sites for new schools and get the best value for the taxpayer.

Details of announcement

Wave 12 free schools approved today:

  1. 111 free schools in total creating 67,718 new school places:
    • 18 schools in the East of England, creating 8,875 places
    • 9 schools in the East Midlands, creating 8,105 places
    • 7 schools in Yorkshire and the Humber, creating 4,006 places
    • 2 schools in the North East, creating 204 places
    • 5 schools in the North West, creating 4,610 places
    • 27 schools in the South East, creating 15,429 places
    • 15 schools in the South West, creating 7,721 places
    • 12 schools in the West Midlands, creating 9,060 places
    • 16 schools in London, creating 9,708 places
  1. In addition, 20 local authority areas have been approved to create a new special school through the free school process – taking the total number of approvals to 131. This will create 1,700 school places for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. These will be created in Bedford, Blackpool, Bradford, Bristol, Cheshire East, Croydon, Doncaster, Enfield, Essex, Hampshire, Havering, Herefordshire, Hounslow, Manchester, Portsmouth, Redbridge, Sheffield, South Gloucestershire, Suffolk and Sunderland.
  2. Free schools can be set up by parents, teachers, charities, businesses, cultural and sporting bodies, community groups, academy trusts and 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.
  3. 76% of open mainstream free schools up to September 2016 are located in areas where there was a need for more school places, and almost half are in the 30% most deprived communities in the country. They are also more likely to be rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted than other state schools – and can help to raise standards in neighbouring schools by introducing fresh ideas and competition.
  4. LocatED will be accountable to the Secretary of State for Education, and will be responsible for the acquisition of sites for new schools. It launched in March 2017 and will play a vital role in supporting the department to meet this government’s manifesto commitment to open 500 new schools by 2020, almost double the number of free schools opened over the course of the last Parliament.