54 new free schools open this month
London has the greatest number
54 new free schools are expected to open this month, according to Department for Education (DfE) data*. Twelve of these are in London: eight secondary mainstream, one mainstream primary, two all-through schools (one special) and a 16-19 free school, Harris Professional Skills Sixth Form.
Harris Federation will open three free schools in total: two secondary mainstream and the 16-19 sixth form. The total number of Harris academies is now 47. One Harris primary school, Harris Academy Philip Lane (formerly Downhills) recently attracted notoriety when its 2018 Sats results were annulled.
North East has lowest number of new free schools expected to open
The North East has the lowest number of free schools expected to open this month. But one is a 14-19 University Technology College (UTC) and the other a primary special school.
Three areas outside London each have seven free schools expected to open: East of England, North West (Lancashire and West Yorkshire) and South West.
Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands and the South East expect to open five free schools each. West Midlands expects four.
REACH2 expects to open three free schools
The expanding REACH2 academy trust expects to open three primary free schools bringing the total number of academies in REACH2 to 57.
Oasis to open secondary free school in Oldham, scene of free school failures
Oasis Community Learning (UCL) is expected to open Oasis Academy Leesbrook, a secondary free school in Oldham on a temporary site vacated by the failed Greater Manchester UTC.
Oldham’s involvement with free schools hasn’t been encouraging: Greater Manchester UTC and Collective Spirit have both closed and the controversial Phoenix Free School, dubbed the ‘military school’, was rejected by the DfE after having been initially approved.
During Leesbrook's consultation phase, UCL was asked about free school failures in Oldham,. UCL said it was a successful national multi-academy trust ‘chosen by the DfE to work with Oldham Council’ to open the new school.
Fourth free school to open in Greenwich
Leigh Academy Blackheath will open on the site of Blackheath CofE Bluecoat School which closed in 2014 despite the council claiming it needed more secondary school places to meet demand. Greenwich council recently paid Leigh Academy Trust (LAT) £1.5m for disputed land when LAT took over Corelli College (now The Halley Academy). Corelli College claimed the proliferation of free schools in Greenwich was partly to blame for the academy’s financial problems.
Academy trust causing concern in Kent to open secondary free school in Folkestone
The Turner Free School expects to open in Folkestone tomorrow. Turner Schools caused controversy following an unpopular reorganisation at Folkestone Academy which had been taken over by Turner Schools for a ‘fresh start’ on 30 November 2017. This was despite the predecessor academy, also called Folkestone Academy, being judged good.
EXTRA 10.41: Education secretary, Damian Hinds, welcomes the 54 new schools, says Schools Week, but the number is far short of the target of 100 new free schools a year.
*Downloadable here. Clicking on the link will open a spreadsheet showing free schools in the pipeline and September 2018 openers. Click on the latter to see information re free schools expected to open this month.