In response, Interim Director Mark Lehain said: "As more and more free schools open each year, we're able to think about the future direction of the policy. As a parent and founder of a free school, I know how much the policy has allowed local communities to get the schools they want. The application process is tough, as you'd expect, and so it’s not surprising that so many groups of teachers and existing schools are stepping up to the plate to open new schools, often in response to wishes of local parents - it's very positive that the profession itself is now embracing the policy, and free schools are still the best way for innovation to flourish and voices of the community to be heard.
The report rightly praises the academic success of free schools and the desperately needed places they have provided. The latest application criteria explicitly targets areas of low attainment and high need, which should see even more children benefitting from free schools. We very much welcome this re-focusing and look forward to working with groups who are targeting new schools in these areas."