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
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Senior Textiles / Fashion Technician

£22000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To contribute to the day-to-da...

Recruitment Genius: Health and Social Care NVQ Assessor

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It is also essential that you p...

Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre scho...

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£30000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An independent boys' school sit...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'