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News - 25 September 2012

What are Free Schools?

In June 2010, the Secretary of State, Rt Hon. Michael Gove MP invited proposals from groups of parents, teachers, charities and local communities to develop proposals to set up a new type of school. Where the Department for Education believes that a proposed school meets a local need and will be successful, a new 'Free School' is set up.

Free Schools are all-ability state-funded schools, parents do not pay to send their child to a Free School and groups running Free Schools cannot make a profit. Although the Government funds Free Schools, they can do things differently from other state schools. For example, they can follow a different curriculum, or change the length of the school day. To ensure high standards are maintained Free Schools, like any other school, are inspected by Ofsted.

These new schools will have the same legal requirements as academies and enjoy the same freedoms and flexibilities to help them deliver an excellent education, provide genuine parental choice and drive up standards in our schools across the country. Like academies, they will be funded on a comparable basis to other state-funded schools and will not be profit making.

Under the Coalition Government’s radical new plans, Free Schools will also be able to prioritise the most disadvantaged children (eligible for Free School Meals) in their school admissions arrangements. With the Pupil Premium, there will be an even greater incentive for Free Schools to attract pupils that are most in need of high-quality education.

Peter Ham Chief Auditor and Head of Schools and Charities at ABDS comments:

“The freedoms that Free Schools and Academies have allow teachers to make decisions that are right for local children. International evidence shows that giving teachers and heads more freedom in the classroom helps to raise standards in education.”

Lavinia Newman, Founder of ABDS emphasised that:
“From 2009 to 2010, results in Academies increased by an average of 7.8 percentage points (proportion of pupils in Academies achieving five or more GCSEs at A*-C, including English and maths) compared with the national average increase of 4.5 percentage points for all state schools.”

There are now 79 Free Schools in the country, 24 opened in September 2011 with a further 55 in September 2012.

If you need any help and advice with Free Schools, Academy Schools or Charities, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail: abds@netaccountants.net

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