While schools across the country return for another academic year, 61 new free schools will open their doors to pupils for the very first time this September. To celebrate, we take a look at five exciting free schools opening this month.

London Screen Academy

The London Screen Academy is a new 16-19 college in Islington which will give young people the once in a lifetime opportunity to develop their creative talents and get their foot in the door of the film and television industries. The impressive project is led by Working Title Films (Bridget Jones, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Darkest Hour) in partnership with the East London Arts and Music Academy (ELAM) as part of the Day One Trust. Some of the nation’s most accomplished film producers are on board, including Heyday Films’ David Heyman (Harry Potter), EON Productions’ Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson (James Bond) and Lisa Bryer (The Last King of Scotland). The curriculum will prepare students for careers in the film and television industries, with programmes offering strong vocational content, much of which is required in the industries and isn’t currently available in any other post-16 programme of study. Acclaimed screen industry professionals will mentor pupils in entertainment technologies, creative media arts, performance and production. This innovative school really captures the spirit of the free schools movement, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for its students.


Eden Boys' Leadership Academy, Bradford

STAR Academies will be opening the Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy in Bradford this week. The boys’ secondary school will have a Muslim faith designation, welcoming applications from pupils of all faiths and none. Like all STAR schools, “leadership” will be a specialism at Eden Boys’, Bradford. STAR Academies has been involved with the free schools programme since its inception and, having delivered ten Outstanding free schools, the trust is regarded as one of the most successful free school providers in the country. Most STAR schools are based in deprived areas, and the trust is driven by the goal of improving disadvantaged children’s life chances. And they are making a real difference to the lives of these children. Indeed, three STAR schools are in England’s top ten performing schools at Progress 8, and achievement and progress is well above average trust-wide. We look forwards to seeing the impact the new Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy will have on the lives of its pupils.  


The Heights Burnley

Led by the Education Partnership Trust, The Heights is a new alternative provision school in Burnley for children aged 5-16 who are struggling to reach their full potential in a mainstream setting. The school will also offer much needed support for teenage mothers in the area. The Heights seeks to challenge, inspire and motivate those who have become disengaged from learning. As well as learning the core curriculum, pupils will take part in vocational studies, learning outside of the classroom, and personal and social development programmes. The school will provide specialist interventions designed to promote self-esteem and support anger management to ensure pupils leave as confident, valuable members of society. This new school will give vulnerable young people the chance to get their lives back on track. More AP like this is needed in every local authority to support society’s most vulnerable children and young people and help them reach their full potential.


West Bromwich Collegiate Academy

Supported by Microsoft, West Bromwich Collegiate Academy will bring an innovative, technology focussed curriculum to a deprived community. Established by the Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust, a successful local provider, the new secondary school will provide 750 places for 11-16 year olds. The school will not have a traditional curriculum, but will offer ‘Literacy for Life’, a successful model used at the Outstanding Shireland Collegiate Academy. To ease the transition process, students are taught for 17 hours by the same teacher in Year 7, 13 hours in Year 8 and 8 hours in the first half of Year 9. Subjects are brought together and taught through themes in mixed ability classes with different levels of support for students who need to be stretched and those who need more help. With its IT rich curriculum, this school is sure to prepare its pupils for the future.


Skol Nansledan

Nansledan School (Skol Nansledan in Cornish) is opening in Newquay as part of the Nansledan development, an extension to the town of Newquay. The school will open its doors to pupils of reception age and will initially offer mixed aged classes for older pupils. The school will grow to 420 places for 4-11 year olds. Pupils will be taught an innovative curriculum specialising in STEM, literacy, and art with sustainable development at its heart. Active discovery and experiential learning will be encouraged. Children will be given responsibilities such as caring for the school’s pets and plants, maintaining the vegetable garden, producing a monthly newsletter, running a local radio station and working with Green Cornwall to improve energy efficiency. Nansledan School will be at the heart of the community, and is designed to meet the needs of local children.


This is just a handful of the amazing schools opening for the first time this term. Congratulations to all 2019 openers who managed to make it through the rigorous pre-opening process. And best of luck to all schools for the new year ahead!

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