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Free Schools are non-profit making, independent, state-funded schools. There is not a ’one-size-fits-all’ approach. They are not defined by size or location: there is not a single type of Free School or a single reason for setting them up. Free Schools could be primary or secondary schools. They could be located in traditional school buildings or appropriate community spaces such as office buildings or church halls. They could be set up by a wide range of proposers – including charities, universities, businesses, educational groups, visionary teachers or committed parents – who want to make a difference to the educational landscape. They might be needed because there simply are not enough school places in a local area and children have to travel too far to the nearest school.
The thing which unites all Free Schools is that they are being set up in response to real demand within a local area for a greater variety of schools, they meet rigorous standards and they are all absolutely committed to providing young people with the best possible chance to succeed.
It is clear from the Academies programme that this autonomy has transformed the life chances of pupils. Free Schools will have some additional freedoms. For example, teachers in Free Schools will not necessarily need to have Qualified Teacher Status.
Like academies, Free Schools will be funded on a comparable basis to other state-funded schools. Groups running Free Schools cannot make a profit. They will be subject to the same Ofsted inspections as all state schools and will be expected to maintain the same rigorous standards.
The admissions arrangements of any Free School must be fair and transparent. Free Schools are expected to be open to pupils of all abilities from the area and cannot be academically selective. Free Schools will need to take part in their local coordinated admissions process, and so parents apply for places for their child in the same way as any other local school.
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