Largest ever wave of free schools approved

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
The Department for Education announced today that 131 more free schools have been approved to open. When full, these schools will provide 69,000 places. These schools will join the 672 free schools that are already open or approved to open.

This is also the broadest free school wave to date, with more schools approved to open outside London than in any previous wave.

Among the new schools are:

  • Working Title: A 16-19, mixed, non-faith, sixth form in Islington, specialising in film. It is due to open in this Parliament and will educate 1,000 pupils when full.  
  • BOA Digital: An 11-18 school specialising in digital technology. It will be the sister school of Birmingham Ormiston Academy, a 14-19 school, and will specialise in the creative, digital and performing arts, as well as help to address a skills shortage in the digital industry.
  • Prince Albert High School: A proposal from a primary school in Birmingham for a non-selective secondary school that has been developed in partnership with the King Edward VI Foundation, a Birmingham-based educational charity that includes five grammar schools.
  • St Bede’s Inter-Church School: An 11-16 school from St Bede’s Inter-Church School in Cambridge, judged Outstanding by Ofsted. The free school will have a distinctive Christian ethos supported by the Roman Catholic and Anglican Foundation within the Dioceses of Ely and East Anglia.
  • UKFast/Dean Trust School: A secondary school in central Manchester, intended to open in 2018 to meet a need for new secondary places. The school will be part of The Dean Trust, working in close collaboration with UKFast, a Manchester-based technology firm.
  • ACE Sky Academy and Eden Project Nursery: A primary school and nursery on the outskirts of St Austell, Cornwall. The school will be part of a new eco-community and work in partnership with The Eden Project. Outdoor education will be a key part of the provision from nursery onwards.

Toby Young, Director of New Schools Network, said:

“This is the largest ever cohort of free schools to be approved. The fact that so many of the free schools approved in this wave are outside of London, with over 21 in the Midlands alone, demonstrates this Government’s commitment to extending the benefits of the free schools policy to all parts of the country.

“This is a big day for free schools. With 800 either opened or approved to open, providing 400,000 places when full, free schools are now a permanent part of England’s educational landscape.”