Responding to a Schools Week investigation into free schools opening in temporary accommodation, NSN Director Unity Howard said:
“Year after year, finding a suitable site continues to be the single biggest issue for free schools. From a survey conducted by New Schools Network, 70% of open and pre-open free schools identified finding a site as the biggest challenge. Too often, local authorities are dragging their feet when it comes to releasing land for much-needed new schools that will benefit local families. If councils continue to obstruct and delay, the Government should step in and legislate to compel local authorities to release what is already publicly-owned land to new free school groups.
“In an ideal world, free schools would open their doors for the first time in their permanent home. But even where this has not been the case and they have had to start life in temporary accommodation, free schools are still thriving. Schools such as East London Arts and Music and The Heights Primary School both secured Outstanding ratings while on a temporary site. This just shows that even despite challenging circumstances around premises, free schools are improving standards in communities that for far too long have been out of sight and out of mind.”