Our last blog highlighted how free schools have successfully adapted to the daunting situation the education sector finds itself in. The hard work of many free schools during this pandemic has demonstrated why they exist in the first place – to provide better opportunities to children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
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Community and innovation are two of the defining characteristics of the free schools programme, and this has never been more apparent than during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Since schools have closed to the majority of pupils, free school leaders and staff have been going above and beyond to provide for their pupils and communities, and they are building firm relationships along the way.
I am writing to you from the New Schools Network (NSN), a charity improving the life chances of young people by supporting the creation and long-term success of new schools.
Following the publication of the consultation outcome, I am seeking urgent clarification on the arrangements for exam grading and assessment in 2020 for free schools.
"There is no substitute for a child learning in the classroom while being kept safe. Those not in school nor able to access learning remotely face a potential legacy of widening inequality that will be felt for years to come.
"This important research by the Centre for Social Justice is very welcome. Last year, in our report Free schools: the next 10 years, we identified disparities in funding, quality and location that present real challenges for families with some of our most vulnerable young people.
"The Public Accounts Committee’s report on Support for Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities is concerning.
"The report highlights the difficulties many families face in securing an ECH plan, which too frequently leave our most vulnerable children lacking the support they need. This simply cannot be justified.
New Schools Network (NSN) is a charity improving the life chances of young people across the country by supporting the creation of new free schools. NSN finds talented people and organisations, supports them to establish new free schools in their communities and, through the Academy Ambassadors Programme, supports better governance by finding business leaders with the right skills to become trustees.