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News - 11 October 2012

Many free schools 'significantly under subscribed'

Fifty five new schools opened this September, bringing the total to 79, and according to figures obtained by the BBC, a quarter of them are significantly under subscribed.

Free schools are semi-independent state schools set up and run by parents, teachers and charities.

The data was obtained by contacting all the 55 new Free Schools (September opening) asking how many places they available and how many places had been filled.

Of the 41 who supplied figures, 14 of them had spare capacity, many with either a half or a third of their places unfilled. Avanti House in Harrow (the largest free school in England) has places for 240 children, but recruited only 130. Wapping High School has 38 pupils out of a possible 84.

The National Union of Teachers has made several freedom of information requests for reports and data used by the government when determining which free schools to approve.

NUT deputy general secretary, Kevin Courtney, said most parents wanted education to remain a public service and not to be hived off.
"We don't think there's any pent up sense of huge parental demand for free schools," he said.

Peter Ham Chief Auditor and Head of Schools and Charities at ABDS comments:
“One of the problems in the smaller uptake in places may have been caused by them securing their funding in the summer long after most students had already made their choices. The free schools which opened in September 2011 were all over subscribed.”

If you need any help and advice on Schools and or Charities, contact ABDS to discuss how we can help.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail:

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