Hundreds set to start the year in new free schools

Latest tranche of classrooms include the first for disaffected teenagers and the first to take boarders, which is backed by Eton College

EDUCATION EDITOR

It is perhaps the legacy of Michael Gove, the former secretary of state for education, to the schooling system – Mark Two.

As parents and children prepare for the new school year which begins this week, Mr Gove's imprint can be firmly seen in this year's GCSE and A-level results. But it can also be shown in nearly 100 new schools which open their doors for the first time, offering different opportunities to thousands of pupils.

As well as 80 free schools, there will be 13 innovative University Technical Colleges – which offer 14 to 19-year-olds a first-class vocational education to help them pursue their future careers.

On the free schools front, 174 are already open and 156 are in the pipeline. A further tranche is expected to be approved in October. Natalie Evans, of the New Schools Network, the charity which helps new free school providers write their applications, reckons that by the time of the next election, around 400 will have been approved and will be either up and running or preparing to accept pupils.

This autumn's openings mean that free schools will teach 43,000 pupils this year. Among them will be those in the first boarding free school, Holyport College in Berkshire, which is sponsored by Eton College, and Wac Arts College in Camden, north London – the first free school dedicated to giving pupils "at risk" and disaffected with mainstream schools an alternative creative curriculum.

Ms Evans is optimistic about the future despite Labour's pledge to bring the curtain down on free schools. The party's pledge to allow parent-led academies to open has even led some observers to query what the difference will actually be.

"The political environment has changed dramatically over the past few years," said Ms Evans. "We were really pleased to see Stephen Twigg and Tristram Hunt [the former and current Labour shadow education secretaries] commit publicly to keeping all the free schools that are open and letting ones in the pipeline through.

"All three major political parties now agree there should be a mechanism to open new schools and that's not where we were four years ago."

Free schools are still creating strong political debate, however, with Labour and the teachers' unions arguing that they tend not to be opened in areas where a bulge in the birth rate has created the greatest need for more school places.

Case studies

School will open with a two-week 'Apprentice' project

Students at Sir Charles Kao University Technical College, in Harlow, Essex, will spend their first weeks not at their desks but on a life-like work experience project, in an exercise not dissimilar to an episode of Lord Sugar's BBC TV show, The Apprentice.

They will be devising replacement knee joints designed to last the patients who receive them for 20 years. One of these will be chosen, after which the students will appear before a board of their college superiors to discuss why they have come up with their design and how they will market them.

There is one major difference – the college principal Mike McKeaveney will not be singling out one of them at the end of the interview process to tell them: "You're fired!"

It is an example of the hands-on approach to industry and employment that will be a main part of the college, one of 13 new UTCS that will open their doors to students for the first time this month.

James Fornara, Principal of Wac Arts College James Fornara, Principal of Wac Arts College 'Our number one priority is to make learning fun'

The Wac Arts College in Camden, north London, is an innovative venture designed to give teenagers excluded from school or at risk of exclusion an alternative education based on the creative arts. It is the first school of its kind in the country – a free school which, instead of offering troubled teenagers a similar diet to what they could expect in a mainstream school, will concentrate on dance, music and drama to inspire them to take an interest in learning again. From Wednesday, it will take in 16 14-to-16-year-olds and 20 16-to-19-year-olds. Twice those numbers applied for places. Many of its students will have been "quite turned off and disengaged by mainstream education," said the school's principal, James Fornara. "The number one priority for what we're trying to do is make learning fun."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 1 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is a small friendly village prim...

Recruitment Genius: Student Support Assistants - Part Time & Full Time

£14600 - £17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are passionate about sup...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness