Free schools

  1. Video content

    Video caption: General election 2019: Who do you think you are voting for?

    People in Southsea, Newbury and Wimborne were asked which education policy they would vote for.

  2. Video content

    Video caption: 'It's good to have rules, children know where they stand'

    At the Michaela School near Wembley a strict ‘tiger teaching’ approach has drawn both criticism and praise.

  3. Just over 30 pupils to study at specialist autism school

    BBC Radio Cumbria

    A new school for Cumbrian children with autism is still on schedule to open in September, according to its headteacher.

    Cumbria Academy for Autism is being built on the site of the former Westlands Hotel on Branthwaite Road in Workington.

    The school will be one of a handful of free schools in the county, which aren't controlled by a local authority, can broadly set their own curriculum and receive funding directly from the government.

    Richard Aindow, Cumbria Academy for Autism headteacher, told BBC Radio Cumbria's Mike Zeller at Breakfast that at first the school will cater for around 30 children who aren't able to remain in mainstream education.

    He said: "I very much believe in inclusion, that children with autism can to go a mainstream school but there are children that doesn't work for.

    "They struggle. So having a special needs school that specifically caters for their needs and works alongside them and their families, it will make a big difference."

    The school eventually hopes to enrol more than 50 pupils.

  4. 'Lessons must be learned' over free school closure

    Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah says she is "very disappointed" that the Discovery School in the city is closing and that "lessons must be learned".

    The free school will be shut in August, four years after it was opened.

    The Labour MP said despite the school's closure she believed young people would have the chance for Stem education with the opening of the North East Futures UTC later this year.

    She said: "My view is that the Government-required rush for free schools and academy trusts has resulted in schools with limited governance and which are not fully rooted in the community.

    "Oversight needs to provided at a more local level than Whitehall.

    "I am writing to the Secretary of State to ask that lessons be learnt and try to ensure students do not lose out in future."

    Chi Onwurah
  5. School is 'not working for students, parents and staff'

    A free school which will close at the end of this term was "simply not working for students, parents and staff", it says.

    The Discovery School in Newcastle will close in August, four years after it was opened.

    In a statement the school said the decision had been taken based on well-documented issues at the school including safeguarding problems, poor teaching and leadership and the results of a recent Ofsted which is expected to deem the school inadequate.

    It means the school's funding has been stopped.

    The school said: "We realise this will be upsetting for pupils and parents - and for staff who will be made redundant - however we cannot allow the situation to continue and believe that in the long term this will be for the best.

    "It is very early days and in the next few weeks there will be a lot of activity to ensure that the process of closure, and finding new schools for pupils is as straightforward as possible."

  6. Free school to close four years after opening

    BBC Newcastle

    A free school in Newcastle is to close in August just four years after opening.

    It's after the government withdrew funding for the Discovery School.

    It has the capacity for 700 students but currently has just 218 on the roll.

    In July 2017 Ofsted inspectors said it was "failing to meet pupils' needs".

    Discovery School
  7. Parents 'not involved' in new free schools

    Parent groups have only been behind about one in five of the free schools that have been opened, say researchers.

    The flagship policy, launched under the coalition government, was meant to bring innovation and more parental choice to schools in England.

    But Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, which carried out the free school study, said "very few are fulfilling that original purpose".

    The Department for Education said free schools were raising standards.

    The next wave of about 35 free schools is going to be directed towards the lowest-performing areas of England, particularly the North East.

    Students in classroom
  8. Failing free school Route 39 to be called Atlantic Academy

    Jonathan Morris

    BBC News Online

    A free school rated inadequate by inspectors last year is changing its name.

    Route 39

    Route 39 Academy near Bideford, is to be called the Atlantic Academy from September, parents were told in a letter from Launceston College which was brought in to run it.

    Launceston principal Lynsey Slater said Route 39 was "entering an exciting time" and the name change was to "reflect our aspirations for our students, drawing inspiration from the stunningly beautiful location and the metaphor of unlimited horizons".

    She also outlined a number of changes to the curriculum and said she was seeking "rapid improvement in teaching and learning" at the school which moves into a new £20m building in September.

    Free schools are independent and paid for by central government, not local authorities as with other state schools.

  9. Failing Devon free school 'lacked government support'

    BBC Radio Devon

    A trustee of a controversial parent-led school in Devon says there wasn't the right government support to deal with the challenges of setting up a new school.

    Route 39 Academy in Higher Clovelly near Bideford was placed in special measures by Ofsted in July last year after it emerged the school had decided not to enter any Year 11 pupils for GCSEs.

    Last month, the school's governors resigned after Launceston College Multi Academy was brought in to run it.

    School building behind fence
    Quote Message: The very particular challenges that a parent-led freeschool was going to face didn't seem to have been thought out. We felt that we were finding our own solutions rather than having help from the government or government experts." from Anna Ward Former governor
    Anna WardFormer governor

    The government said it will not hesitate to take action when any school is not meeting standards, and work is under way to set up an interim governing body for Route 39.

  10. Parents campaigning to save 'inadequate' school

    Jenny Kumah

    BBC South West politics reporter

    Parents are fighting to save a Devon school from closure despite a damning Ofsted report finding it inadequate in all areas.

    Inspectors visited Plymouth Studio School in March and found students regularly missing lessons, poor leadership and poor exam results.

    Plymouth Studio School

    The school, which has 155 pupils and was intending to have capacity for up to 300, announced earlier this week it was close less than three years after it opened.

    Its head teacher said he was "extremely sorry" to be announcing the news.

    It cost £4.2m to build.