What are Free Schools?
What has been achieved so far?
The first 24 Free Schools opened in September 2011. Another 55 opened in September 2012 and a further 100 are expected to open in September 2013. Although it is too early to have extensive evidence about the performance and impact of these pioneers, we do know that Free Schools have the potential to provide an excellent standard of education and that they are already proving very popular with local parents. In a recent survey, conducted by the Department for Education, 90% of open Free Schools reported being oversubscribed. On average, there were 3 applications for every place at the Free Schools surveyed, with some schools receiving as many as 10 applications for every place.
How can you set up a Free School?
Groups who want to set up Free Schools must have their proposal approved by the Department for Education. They submit a detailed application and attend an interview. They must also supply a petition from local parents asking for their particular new school.
You can find out more about Free Schools by reading our guide Free Schools 101.
Where do Free Schools come from?
There is an increasing body of evidence that suggests that schools run by parents, teachers, charities, and independent organisations improve standards more rapidly than those run by politicians – and in the process push existing schools to do better. Not only can we look to Academies in England, but Sweden and the US already have established networks of Free Schools (or Charter Schools in the US) which have produced great results for their students.
This report sets out some of the international evidence which shows that Free Schools are improving education in other countries.
Please read this if you'd like to find out more about the Free Schools systems in Sweden and the US and the considerable success they have had in improving their education systems.
Why would you set up or support a new Free School in your area?
We know new schools can make an enormous impact. At NSN we have had the privilege of working with most of the 79 Free Schools that are already up and running. We have seen, first hand, how they are transforming children’s lives.
We know from international evidence that Free Schools perform better than traditional state schools, improve standards in other schools and are extremely popular with parents and pupils.