Fifteen new free schools to open in areas where education outcomes are poorest to drive up school standards.
Around 12,000 young people in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country will benefit from a wave of new free schools, another major step in this government’s work to raise school standards.
The government has announced today (22 August 2023) that 15 new free schools are set to be opened in parts of the country where education outcomes are weakest, providing more opportunities for local young people.
Free schools are funded by the government but are not run by the local authority, instead, they are run by other organisations – most commonly academy trusts – but also industry and universities. They have greater freedom to innovate and drive up standards, for example more autonomy over the teachers’ pay and their curriculum.
The new schools will include 3 schools run by the high performing Star Academies and Eton College, located in Dudley, Teesside and Oldham, spreading the highest standards of education across the North East, North West and West Midlands. These schools will help rapidly increase the progression of talented local pupils into top universities including Oxford and Cambridge.
Free schools and academies have been central to this government’s work to raise school standards, with 88% of schools now rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, up from 68% in 2010. In classrooms, England’s children have shot up the international rankings for reading and our 9 and 10 year olds are now the best in the western world.
The free schools programme provides parents with more choice of good schools, helping to level up opportunity across the country. It enables strong trusts to open high-quality schools in new areas and attract fresh expertise to areas across the country that need it most.
Free schools outperformed other types of non-selective state schools in England in last week’s A level results. Around 35% of A levels taken by pupils in free schools achieved a grade A or A* compared to 22% studied by pupils in local authority schools.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:
“We want to make more good school places available to families, and these 15 new free schools will bring brand new opportunities to young people from Bradford to Bristol.
“Free schools bring high standards, more choice for parents and strong links to industry – and all in the areas where those opportunities are needed most.
“These new schools build on this government’s work to drive up school standards since 2010, with 88% of schools now rated good or outstanding – up from 68% – and high performing academies and free schools in all parts of the country.”
Star Academies chief executive Sir Hamid Patel CBE said:
“The free schools programme continues to inject innovation and creativity into the school system.
“We’re delighted our 3 sixth form colleges – being delivered in partnership with Eton College – will be part of the programme and we look forward to working with our local stakeholders to provide more young people with the high-quality education and aspirational opportunities they deserve.”
Eton College headmaster Simon Henderson said:
“We are delighted by this decision. We believe these new colleges have the potential to be transformative both for the young people who attend and for the wider communities they will serve.
“Collaborative partnership will be key to this project’s success and we are very grateful for the support we have had already from the respective councils, from the local communities and from our colleagues in other educational settings.”
Each Eton Star sixth-form college will create 480 schools spaces and will be run through a strong partnership between Star Academies, a highly successful academy trust, and Eton College, who will provide financial and extra-curricular support.
Plans have also been approved for the BRIT School North in Bradford, 2 University Technical Colleges (UTCs), 1 new all-through school for pupils aged 4 to 16, a primary school, 2 secondary schools and a further 5 free schools for 16 to 19 year olds.
The 2 University Technical Colleges (UTCs) have been approved for Doncaster and Southampton to support young people build the skills they need for their future careers, including in health sciences and marine engineering.
The BRIT School North will create opportunities for rising stars in the north of the country to break into the performing arts industry. It is based on the award-winning performing arts school in South London which helped to launch the careers of Adele, Amy Winehouse and Jessie J.
Free schools in this wave have been approved where there is the greatest need for good new places, prioritising Education Investment Areas (EIAs) identified in the Levelling Up White Paper and Priority Education Investment Areas (PEIAs) identified in the Schools White Paper.
These are parts of the country with the lowest education outcomes that the government is investing in to support young people to get the education and skills they need to get a good job and help the economy continue growing.
The full list of new free schools that have been approved and are expected to open in 3 or 4 years include:
- Eton Star, a 16-19 school in Dudley
- Eton Star, a 16-19 school in Teesside
- Eton Star, a 16-19 school in Oldham
- BRIT School North, a 16-19 school in Bradford
- Great Stall East Academy, an all through school from ages 4 to 16 in Swindon
- Lotmead Primary School in Swindon
- Dixons Victoria Academy, a secondary school in Manchester
- Dixons Wythenshawe Sixth Form, a 16-19 school in Manchester
- Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy, a secondary school in Liverpool
- Bolsover Sixth Form, a 16-19 school in Derbyshire
- Cabot Sixth Form, a 16-19 school in Bristol
- New College Keighley, a 16-19 school in Bradford
- Thorpe Park College, a 16-19 school in Leeds
- UTC Southampton
- Doncaster UTC – Health Sciences and Green Technologies