Data shows demand for free schools

 

New Free Schools, set up less than a year ago and free from local authority control, are hugely over-subscribed, according to Government figures.

Twenty-two of the 24 Free Schools which opened last September responded to a Department for Education (DfE) survey, with 19 reporting being over-subscribed for the coming school year starting this September.

On average, primary Free Schools attracted more than twice as many applications for the number of places available.

The secondary, or all-through, Free Schools, on average received well over three times as many applications for the places available.

Free Schools are being set up by teachers, parents and charities where there is parental demand and, in the main, in areas of deprivation.

Schools Minister Lord Hill said the figures underlined the popularity of Free Schools with parents.

"These figures show how keen parents are to send their children to Free Schools," he said.

"They provide the answer to the naysayers who said that Free Schools weren't wanted or needed - or that no one would be bothered to set them up.

"They are also providing a spur to other local schools to do the best they can."

* 554 parents applied for 132 places in Batley Grammar School's primary and secondary phases. The school, in Yorkshire, has the largest waiting list in Kirklees.

* 1,078 parents applied for the 120 places at West London Free School in Hammersmith. More than 250 parents put the school down as their first choice.

* 704 parents applied for 160 places on offer at Kings Science Academy, in Bradford.

* 80 parents applied for 24 places in the Free School Norwich's reception class. Eighteen children are waiting for places to become available in each of the other classes in the school, which is now considering a new building to cope with demand.

Tania Sidney-Roberts, principal of Free School Norwich, said: "The Free School Norwich is three-and-a-half times over-subscribed again for this September and we are currently operating waiting lists of at least 18 children in all year groups across the school.

"This demonstrates just how desperately needed the service our school provides is.

"A recent parent feedback survey carried out by the school also indicates that 100% of our parents are very happy with the service and that their children love coming to the school and are making excellent progress.

"I am obviously delighted to have confirmed in this way what we always knew was the case - that the freedom given to Free Schools to be innovative and to meet the needs and preferences of parents was long overdue and it works."

Dr Brinder Singh Mahon, chairman of the Nishkam School Trust, in Birmingham, added: "We have been very disappointed to turn away over 50 families who could not be accommodated in the school."

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said he had concerns about pupils at other schools missing out on funding.

He said: "It's perfectly understandable that parents want to send their children to schools that have had investment in new facilities, and can afford small class sizes and extras like free iPads, rather than the good school down the road which may have a leaking roof and crumbling buildings.

"Where there is a shortage of places, opening a new school makes sense.

"The problem is opening a new school where there is no real need.

"Our concern is for pupils who remain in good and outstanding schools down the road from a new Free School, who are losing out in terms of funding and resources."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 1 Primary teacher

£120 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: An excellent primary school based ...

AER Teachers: Cover Supervisor - Central London - September

£70 - £80 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: This outstanding school s...

AER Teachers: SEN Teaching Assistant - London - September

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: This central London prima...

AER Teachers: Graduate Primary Teaching Assistant

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: A good primary school in ...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms