Free Schools[1]


  • Free schools are new schools set up with government funding
  • Free schools are funded by the government but aren’t run by the local council. They have more control over how they do things
  • They’re ‘all-ability’ schools, so can’t use academic selection processes like a grammar school
  • Free schools can:
    • set their own pay and conditions for staff
    • change the length of school terms and the school day
    • They don’t have to follow the national curriculum

Who can set up free schools

Free schools are run on a not-for-profit basis and can be set up by groups like:

  • charities
  • universities
  • independent schools
  • community and faith groups
  • teachers
  • parents
  • businesses

Types of free school

University technical colleges:

  • University technical colleges specialise in subjects like engineering and construction - and teach these subjects along with business skills and using IT
  • Pupils study academic subjects as well as practical subjects leading to technical qualifications. The curriculum is designed by the university and employers, who also provide work experience for students
  • University technical colleges are sponsored by:
    • universities
    • employers
    • further education colleges

Studio schools:

  • Studio schools are small schools (usually with around 300 pupils) teaching mainstream qualifications through project-based learning. This means working in realistic situations as well as learning academic subjects
  • Students work with local employers and a personal coach, and follow a curriculum designed to give them the skills and qualifications they need in work, or to take up further education

  1. Types of School - Free Schools,

Serious Issues with Free Schools

There is conflicting accounts of how many free schools have closed, although a safe figure is 55 between 2011-18, based on research carried out by Schools Week[1]. 5% of free schools have closed and 40 approved projects failed to open. This is a serious waste of resouces and money.

Free schools often open close to present schools where they have no shortage of places. This reduces the funding for the present school. The nature of the free school system means they are not forced into opening in areas with shortages of places and so valuable resources and money are directed away from areas in serious need of investment.

5% of all free schools that have opened since 2011 have either closed completely or been transferred to different academy trusts, while more than 40 approved projects have not opened at all (although the Guardian gives this figure as 9% in another article - see ref 3). This is a massive waste of resources and money, and also the closure of a school has a huge impact on families and staff and it is the local authority that has to pick up the pieces[2][3].

The National Foundation for Educational Research and the Sutton Trust concluded in their study last year, free schools are failing to fulfil the programme’s stated aim of offering innovative and parent-led approaches. Despite this the government has pressed ahead with the scheme, promoting the opening of a further 22 free schools in 2019 going forward[4].

Free schools dramatically drain resources away from other schools and colleges. For example a 6th College in London was given the go ahead with set up costs of £45 million to serve 500 students. This while other 6th form colleges in the area that served 22,000 students were struggling for funds. There is no evidence that the existing colleges were not providing the services that the free school was set up to provide.

Closed Schools[1]

The list is supposedly the definite list from the DoE, but these is some uncertainty and disagreement. Each free school is set up from scratch, so each of the schools required the full investment of a new school rather than investing into present schools.

Dawes Lane Academy AP free school Closed
Bolton Wanderers Free School Free school Closed
Collective Spirit Free School Free school Closed
Discovery New School Free school Closed
Discovery School Free school Closed
Durham Free School Free school Closed
Floreat Brentford Primary School Free school Closed
Minerva Academy Free school Closed
Robert Owen Academy Free school Closed
Southwark Free School Free school Closed
St Anthony’s Primary School Free school Closed
St Michael’s Catholic Secondary School* Free school Closed
Stockport Technical School Free school Closed
Bradford Studio School Studio school Closed
Create Studio School Studio school Closed
Da Vinci Creative Enterprise Studio school Closed
Da Vinci Science and Engineering Studio school Closed
Devon Studio School Studio school Closed
Durham Studio School Studio school Closed
Future Tech Studio Studio school Closed
Hull Studio School Studio school Closed
Hyndburn Studio School Studio school Closed
Inspire Enterprise Academy Studio school Closed
Kajans Hospitality and Catering Studio School Studio school Closed
Manchester Creative Studio Studio school Closed
Midland Studio College Hinckley Studio school Closed
Midland Studio College Nuneaton Studio school Closed
New Campus Basildon Studio School** Studio school Closed
Plymouth Studio School Studio school Closed
Rye Studio School Studio school Closed
Stoke Studio College Studio school Closed
Tendring Enterprise Studio School Studio school Closed
The Studio School Luton Studio school Closed
Vision Studio School Studio school Closed
Black Country UTC UTC Closed
Central Bedfordshire UTC UTC Closed
Daventry UTC UTC Closed
Greater Manchester UTC UTC Closed
Hackney UTC UTC Closed
UTC Lancashire UTC Closed
Channeling Positivity AP free school Rebrokered
CUL Academy Trust AP free school Rebrokered
Atlantic Academy Free school Rebrokered
Harpenden Free School Free school Rebrokered
Hartsbrook E-Act Free School Free school Rebrokered
Parkfield School Free school Rebrokered
Royal Greenwich Trust School Academy Free school Rebrokered
University Church Free School Free school Rebrokered
Heathrow UTC UTC Rebrokered
Medway UTC UTC Rebrokered
Sir Charles Kao UTC UTC Rebrokered
Tottenham UTC UTC Rebrokered
UTC MediacityUK UTC Rebrokered
UTC Plymouth UTC Rebrokered
UTC Swindon UTC Rebrokered

  1. Fact check: How many free schools have actually closed? 25 December 2018: