The Independent is reporting that Michael Gove’s legacy can be seen in nearly 100 new schools which open their doors for the first time this month, offering different opportunities to thousands of pupils…
As well as 80 free schools, there will be 13 innovative University Technical Colleges – which offer 14 to 19-year-olds a first-class vocational education to help them pursue their future careers.
On the free schools front, 174 are already open and 156 are in the pipeline. A further tranche is expected to be approved in October. Natalie Evans, of the New Schools Network, the charity which helps new free school providers write their applications, reckons that by the time of the next election, around 400 will have been approved and will be either up and running or preparing to accept pupils.
This autumn’s openings mean that free schools will teach 43,000 pupils this year. Among them will be those in the first boarding free school, Holyport College in Berkshire, which is sponsored by Eton College, and Wac Arts College in Camden, north London – the first free school dedicated to giving pupils “at risk” and disaffected with mainstream schools an alternative creative curriculum.
Ms Evans is optimistic about the future despite Labour’s pledge to bring the curtain down on free schools. The party’s pledge to allow parent-led academies to open has even led some observers to query what the difference will actually be.
“The political environment has changed dramatically over the past few years,” said Ms Evans. “We were really pleased to see Stephen Twigg and Tristram Hunt [the former and current Labour shadow education secretaries] commit publicly to keeping all the free schools that are open and letting ones in the pipeline through.
“All three major political parties now agree there should be a mechanism to open new schools and that’s not where we were four years ago.”
Free schools are still creating strong political debate, however, with Labour and the teachers’ unions arguing that they tend not to be opened in areas where a bulge in the birth rate has created the greatest need for more school places…
More (including case studies from some of the new schools) at: Hundreds set to start the year in new free schools
Are you involved in a brand new school starting this term, whatever its type? If so, fingers crossed and please let us know how it is going!
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