21 free schools were today approved to open by the Department for Education. This round of applications – known as wave 14 – sees thousands more places created by the free schools programme, joining a cohort of over 550 already open across the country.
Free schools are the highest performing type of state school at GCSE and A level, as well as being more likely to be rated Outstanding by Ofsted. NSN has supported several of these groups throughout the application process, and will continue to do so during the pre-opening phase.
Unity Howard, Director of New Schools Network, said:
“This is fantastic news for communities across the country. Free schools have an incredible track record of driving up standards as the highest performing type of state school, and we have seen over the past decade just how popular free schools are with parents.
“These groups should be proud today; the free school application process is demanding, and this year they have dealt with additional uncertainties owing to the pandemic. The next phase of their journey will no doubt prove challenging too, but everybody here at New Schools Network remains eager and willing to help however we can. I wish them the very best of luck as they begin working towards welcoming children through the doors of their new schools in the years to come.”
The free schools that have been approved to open today include:
- XP Gateshead
XP Trust are due to open a brand new, 250-place, mainstream secondary school in Gateshead, following in the footsteps of the successful XP School in Doncaster. The school will adopt the trust’s expeditionary learning approach, inspired by educational models from the United States, with an academically rigorous curriculum centred around Gateshead’s local heritage. The XP model places a strong focus on beautiful work and character education, to support the trust’s goal for all its pupils to attend university.
- King’s Leadership, Walton / King’s Leadership Academy, Farnworth
Great Schools Trust have been approved to open two new 900 place secondary schools; one in Liverpool and one in Bolton. The trust currently runs popular schools in both areas, and the addition of these approvals will ensure that pupils across these local authorities will have access to the signature leadership and character education offered in the trust’s existing schools. The schools will help raise aspiration across the communities they serve, through a distinctive pedagogy that offers a rich and intellectually demanding curriculum.
- The Wheatridge Primary School
The Crypt School’s Trust will establish The Wheatridge Primary School, a new two-form entry primary school with an onsite nursery for 30 children, situated in the Abbeydale/Matson area of Gloucester. The new school will join the secondary grammar school, the Crypt School, within the trust, extending the trust’s provision to nursery and primary ages. Curriculum planning will be facilitated across the trust to provide curriculum leader input from The Crypt School, particularly for Key Stage 2 pupils, to help accelerate learning and prepare them for secondary school learning. The school will offer a knowledge rich curriculum with subject specialists supporting the children across subjects including: English, computing, maths, music, science and MFL. There will be a strong focus on oracy, critical thinking and mastery across the curriculum and children will enter subject specialist classes and have form tutors from Year 5.
- Wisbech Free School
A new 600 place secondary school in Wisbech will be joining the Brooke Weston Trust, which currently runs ten primary and secondary schools, including Corby Technical School. It will bring much-needed choice to families in the area and give parents a second comprehensive, non-fee paying school located in Wisbech. In serving the local population the Wisbech Free School will address the issue of the increasing number of primary phase students. The WFS will have a science and mathematics curriculum at its core and will develop much needed skills in these areas while working to improve life chances in all areas.
- Wootton Park Hardingstone
North Hampton Free School Trust have been approved for a new secondary free school in Northampton, which will build on the success of the trust’s all-through free school, Wootton Park, which opened in 2016 and is now rated Outstanding. The new school will be based on the principles of attainment for all, public service and a stronger society. Citizenship, community and service will be at the heart of the school’s approach alongside a broad and balanced academic curriculum.
- Beacon Secondary Academy
Cotswold Beacon Academy Trust (CBAT) is opening a new six-form entry mainstream secondary free school for pupils aged 11-16 in Gloucester. The Beacon Secondary Academy will have a specialism in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEM), partnering with local businesses and industries in Gloucestershire to provide an innovative curriculum for pupils. The new school will meet the demand for school places created by a steady increase in population and a substantial amount of new housing including 2,500 new homes at the preferred site in Whaddon.
After opening a sixth form free school, and with two further free schools already in the pre-opening stage, Trinity MAT, a Church of England trust based in West Yorkshire, has been approved to open a new free school in Brighouse, Calderdale. The new school will support growing pupil numbers in Halifax by offering 750 new school places to pupils of all faiths and none, and will complement the trust’s current offer at Trinity Academy Halifax which is rated Outstanding. The new free school will be act as a ‘hub of excellence’ for maths and science, and will offer an extracurricular STEM academy in addition to a strong focus on literacy and pastoral care for pupils.
For more information, read the Department for Education's press release here.