Latest wave of free schools include centre for pupils with autism

Eighteen new free schools have been announced today in the first wave of free schools for this Parliament, providing 9,000 new school places.

The new schools to be created include a Vocational Learning Free School, in Cheshire, which will help children with severe learning difficulties and autism spectrum disorder.

Announcing the latest pioneering free schools the prime minister David Cameron pledged “not waver” in his commitment to open 500 new free schools over the next 5 years, creating 270,000 school places across the country.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan also called on more groups to “step forward, invest in the next generation and reap the rewards” that opening a free school can bring.

The department for education said the free schools will give parents “more choice while challenging existing schools to up their game.”

The latest 18 projects given the green light join the 252 already open and the 52 new free schools opening up their doors as schools head back this week.

These will bring the total number of free school places created since 2010 to more than 236,000 – making this policy the most successful new schools programme, with schools being created more quickly than ever before.

David Cameron said: “As a ‘one nation’ government we are clear that every family should have access to a great local school and every child should get the very best education – and free schools are a crucial part of that aim. The aim of this policy is crystal clear – to increase the number of good and outstanding school places so that more parents have the security of knowing their child is getting a great education.

“Today’s announcement shows that we will not waver in pressing ahead with our plans to open 500 more of these innovative and exciting schools over the next 5 years, creating 270,000 places, delivering an excellent education and giving parents across the country real choice for their children.”

Nicky Morgan said: “The free schools programme has sent out the message loud and clear, that parents should never have to settle for anything less than the best for their child. Right across the country, these innovative, community led schools are helping to fulfil our ‘one nation’ commitment to educational excellence for every child.

“We know that free schools don’t just give parents greater choice, they also force existing schools to up their game. Today’s news sends a clear message that we are committed to extending this unprecedented level of choice to more parents than ever before.”

The 18 new schools announced today include a number that will be set up by teachers themselves, showing the programme is putting power back in the hands of those who know children best. These include Solihull Alternative Provision Academy, set up by the headteachers of high-performing schools in Solihull, West Midlands, which will help transform the lives of local children who have fallen out of mainstream schooling.

Other innovative schools due to be created include:

  • XP East, a new secondary school for 350 children in Doncaster. XP East will have a deliberately-small campus feel, like its heavily-oversubscribed sister school, the XP School, and is influenced by a number of charter schools in America.
  • Gipsy Hill Secondary School, which will provide a classical and aspirational education for up to 1,600 children in South London. Opening in 2017, the school will educate children based around the classical ‘trivium’ – a system of thinking developed as far back as Ancient Greece that sees logic, grammar and rhetoric as the foundations of learning.

  • CAPA College, a specialist performing arts college in Leeds through which pupils can look forward to the opportunity to perform in world class venues, such as the Royal Albert Hall.

  • Piper Hill Vocational Learning Free School, a special school in Wythenshawe, Cheshire, which will help children with severe learning difficulties and autism spectrum disorder to improve their independence and employability skills through a range of courses that include horticulture and animal welfare.

Picture: The Education Secretary Nicky Morgan

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