More Free Schools look set to be approved this year after the Department for Education (DfE) announced today (February 13th) that it is accepting new applications.
With 24 Free Schools opening in 2011 providing new teaching jobs, another 72 are in the setting-up process, with many due to welcome their first students for the start of September term this year.
The latest announcement from the DfE invited plans from parent groups and other organisations who wish to open their own mainstream, special or alternative provision educational institution.
Celebrated by the government as a major success story in their programme of education reform, a diverse range of Free Schools that take education in often radical new directions have already opened.
Announcing the latest round of application submissions, schools minister Lord Hill said that initial scepticism of the project has been put to bed.
"When we opened the first round of applications for Free Schools, there was plenty of scepticism," he said.
"Would anyone really want to open a new school? Would busy parents and teachers find the time to do it? The answer to these questions was a resounding yes."
So far this year 12 Free Schools have opened, with some backed by employers including Fulham Football Club, Sony and the BBC.
Groups looking to establish their own state-funded Free School have to submit extensive plans from the beginning of the process and must meet rigorous criteria.
Schools including the Bilingual Primary School for Brighton and Hove, which teaches children half in English and half in Spanish, and the Everton in the Community Free School which provides education for vulnerable young people in Liverpool have been hailed by the government as examples of the project in motion.
Lord Hill declared himself "delighted" to receive new plans from talented groups who wish to open their own Free School in September 2013.
"They will play an important role in raising education standards in our communities, creating choice for parents, and responding to local need," he added.
Posted by Alan Douglas