PRESS RELEASE: New Schools Network: Hundreds more Free Schools groups united in common cause to transform education |

PRESS RELEASE: New Schools Network: Hundreds more Free Schools groups united in common cause to transform education

Friday, February 24, 2012


EMBARGOED: 09.00am 24 February 2012


Hundreds of Free Schools Groups – set up by parents, teachers and local communities across the country – are today submitting applications to the Department for Education to set up new local schools that would open from September 2013.

Independent charity the New Schools Network, has worked with over 300 community-based groups over the past eight months, supporting them as they prepare their applications to be considered by the Department for Education. These groups hope to join the 96 Free Schools that have either already opened, or have been approved to do so.

Data published today by the New Schools Network shows that teachers are becoming an increasingly active group within the Free Schools Movement, with around a third of the groups involving teachers as they submit their applications. This compares with a fifth of the schools to have opened in 2011 being teacher-led and a quarter of those approved to open from 2012.

Since its launch in 2009, the New Schools Network has worked with over a thousand groups wanting to set up new schools, giving the organisation an unique insight into what parents want from the education system.

Rachel Wolf, Founder and Director of NSN said:

"The Government's education reforms put parents firmly in the driving seat, and hundreds of them have come forward wanting to set up good local schools. Teachers are now joining parents in significantly increasing numbers, with around a third of proposals having strong teacher involvement. That is because they want to be able to offer a better education - and ensure that every child, not just the wealthy, can go to a great school."

Nearly 30% of the groups are proposing to establish new primary schools, whilst 43% are wanting to set up new secondary schools. There is also a spread of applications from across the English regions:

North West


North East


Yorkshire and the Humber


East Midlands


West Midlands






South East


South West



In 27 local authority areas, free schools applications will be providing additional school places where there is currently projected to be significant shortfalls in coming years. These include: Bradford, Manchester, Birmingham and London.


Notes to Editors


1.         Of the groups NSN has worked with in preparation for today’s application deadline, 17 have benefitted from additional support through the Development Programme. This programme is for groups which have shown particular promise, but need additional support and advice.  Unlike NSN’s core support work for groups, which is funded through a Government grant, the Development Programme is funded entirely via charitable donations.

2.         The concentration of groups from London and the South East reflects the significant shortfalls of school places in this part of the country.


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