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Parents 'keen' to send children to Free schools

13/04/2012 Kelly
Free Schools are proving incredibly popular among parents, with demand for places far outstripping regular state schools.

New figures released by the Department for Education (DfE) reveal that the average primary Free School received double the number of applications compared to places on offer.

At secondary and 'all-through' level, the volume of applications was three times higher than the number of places available.

A total of 24 Free Schools opened their doors in September 2011 in a project launched by the coalition government and education secretary Michael Gove.

Following a survey by the DfE, 19 schools revealed they were oversubscribed for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Commenting on the results of the study, schools minister Lord Hill said that it shows the policy has paid off and Free Schools are proving popular with parents.

"These figures show how keen parents are to send their children to Free Schools," he said.

"They provide the answer to the naysayers who said that Free Schools weren't wanted or needed - or that no one would be bothered to set them up.

"They are also providing a spur to other local schools to do the best they can."

Batley Grammar School in Yorkshire is a Free School that covers both primary and secondary and currently has the largest waiting list in the locality, with 544 applications for just 132 places.

A similar story was found at Hammersmith's West London Free School, with 1,078 applications for 120 places. Over 250 parents names the school as the number one choice for their children.

Free Schools can be set up by any group that can prove a demand for the school and demonstrate that they can meet the strict standards necessary.

Teachers, charitable organisations and parents have all set up their own Free Schools so far and more are on their way soon.

As many as 72 of the schools are currently in the pipeline, according to DfE figures.

Posted by Theo FouldsADNFCR-2164-ID-801339296-ADNFCR
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