As one of the flagship policies of David Cameron’s government, and one of the government’s heavily-promoted education reforms modeled to increase competition and standards in public education, various groups across the UK preparing to apply to open free schools.
Free schools are the UK equivalent of charter schools, which are state-funded primaries and secondaries started by parents, teachers, charities and private firms and are given greater freedom to change the timings of the school day, teachers’ pay, and the subjects they teach, writes Jessica Shepherd at the Guardian.
Michael Gove and the Department of Education received 281 applications to set up free schools that would open in September 2012, and have so far approved 87.
This is in contrast to summer 2010, when the first free schools were approved. 323 groups submitted bids and 24 opened in September 2011.
One of the applications in the latest round comes from Christian Family Schools , a charity organization that already runs a private evangelical school in Sheffield.
Ken Walze, who would be the curriculum manager of the school, wants to educate children in “family-sized units” of 96 pupils per campus.
“We believe schools should make a real difference to family life and we would follow a model that resembled the home.”
The school, he said, would have an evangelical Christian ethos with the Christian account of creation taught, but not as a scientific theory. Evolution would be taught also, but as a “major scientific theory”.
Not all the teachers at the school would have professionally recognised teaching qualifications, he said.
“Pupils will see that God alone is eternal and that all things originate in him,” the charity’s website states.
Another organization looking to open a free school is the prestigious Manchester grammar school, one of the country’s highest-performing private schools.
The school, whose fees are £9,996 per year, is the first independent school to convert.