The simple truth is fees are not the driving force that limit access for young people. Instead all of our energy should be focused on ensuring pupils receive a decent education in schools that raise aspiration and opens doors for their future.
"We know one of the biggest barriers to innovative curriculum thinking has been a fear of falling foul of Ofsted and the experience of some of the first free school inspections confirmed this.
"The obvious conclusion to draw from the Timpson Review is that we need more high-quality alternative provision places, and we need them now. Too many young people who have been excluded have been consigned to provision that is not even inspected by Ofsted or to see if it meets basic safety standards – around 20,000 young people who have left mainstream schools.
Director of New Schools Network, Luke Tryl, said:
"While the increase in bursaries for lower income families is welcome, it is a drop in the ocean. Still only a very small minority of children from disadvantaged backgrounds receive support from the independent sector. It is not surprising that many state school leaders think independent schools need to do more to justify their social contribution claims.
NSN welcomes Ofsted’s consultation on proposed changes to its inspection framework and the level of detail provided in the accompanying inspection handbook and curriculum research.
The new free schools will cover the breadth of the country, including nine in the north, five in Yorkshire and the Humber and five in the Midlands, providing specialist provision for children with social, emotional and mental health needs, children on the autism spectrum and those with Complex Learning Difficulties. They join 76 open special and AP free schools and a further 66 approved but not yet open.
Luke Tryl, Director of New Schools Network, said:
The most recent application wave, which closed in November last year, saw 124 free school groups send in submissions. These applications were explicitly targeting areas of long-term educational underperformance in addition to providing school places where they were most needed, based off a list provided by the Department for Education (DfE).