There are going to be 400 Free Schools and with 230,000 places across the UK.
David Cameron announced a further 49 Free Schools across the country in March with the laudable intention of give all children access to a ‘good’ local school. This new batch will bring the number of free school places to nearly 230,000 since 2010. An impressive change in a relatively short period.
The wonderful aspect of Free schools is that the Government is handing the responsibility for outcomes to the head teacher and the team of teachers employed at that school. Moving away from the burden created by politicians and local authorities. This doesn’t mean Free Schools will not be assessed, they most certainly will be. Two-thirds of Free Schools are rated as good or outstanding in their Ofsted inspections and no doubt these Free Schools will be inspected more often than mainstream schools to check that all is well for the pupils.
Free schools give enormous potential for real freedoms, take The Boxing Academy where the school has boxers mentoring children. Some children may want to learn to box but are not required to but become part of a school that has sports as a recurring theme to support teaching and learning.
Free schools are being established by parents, teachers, charities and community groups which creates deep ownership where it really matters, locally. These schools with the interests of the children at the heart, learning skills relevant to today and the future supported by the local community are outperforming other schools where the children are engaged and see the purpose of learning at school.
Understanding the purpose of learning at school and being able to have that practically demonstrated is a theme that is missing in many mainstream schools. The Free School initiative begins to address that issue and seems to be doing very well at this early stage.