Eight new free schools approved for West Midlands

Eight free schools have been approved in the West Midlands region, including four in Birmingham.

They are among 102 new free schools which are set to open in England from 2014 after being granted approval from the Department for Education.

Two Birmingham schools will be set up by the trust behind Perry Beeches I, which saw a threefold increase over Key Stage 4 attainment from 2006 to 2011.

The list includes two free schools each in Coventry and Worcestershire.

England currently has 81 free schools, with another 109 set to open in September.

Labour and some teaching unions say the expansion is failing to address a lack of primary places.

Increased control

The Birmingham schools approved from 2014 are Perry Beeches III, Perry Beeches IV, City United Limited (CUL) Academy Trust and The Birmingham Free School.

Perry Beeches I saw an improvement in Key Stage 4 attainment from 20% five or more A* to C grades including English and maths in 2006 to 75% by 2011.

Seva School in Coventry will be a co-educational Sikh school for four to 16-year-olds, with the education trust being formed by a group of parents and community members who have lived and studied in the city.

Coventry Leadership Academy for Girls is the other school in the city approved from 2014, while Aspire Academy and Holy Trinity International School are the two in Worcestershire.

Free schools can be set up by groups of parents, teachers, charities, businesses, universities, trusts, religious or voluntary groups, but are funded directly by central government.

The schools are established as academies, independent of local authorities and with increased control over their curriculum, teachers' pay and conditions, and the length of school terms and days.

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