Free schools

July 21st, 2010 by Peter Oldham QC

While Academies are the issue of the moment, ”free schools” are the waiting in the wings.   In an earlier post I ventured the view that these might be new legal creatures.  However, the DfE website at currently says this on its FAQs page on free schools:-

“What is the difference between Free Schools and academies?
Free Schools will have the same legal requirements as academies. Free Schools are normally brand-new schools set up by charities, universities, business, community or faith groups, teachers and groups of parents where there is parental demand. Academies are usually a change to an existing maintained school.

Legally the structure is the same, and they are expected to meet the same requirements as other academies. Free Schools will also benefit from the same freedoms and flexibilities as academies, including

  • the ability to set their own pay and conditions for staff
  • freedom from following the National Curriculum
  • greater control of their budget
  • freedom to change the length of terms and school days
  • freedom from local authority control.”

It therefore appears that free schools will take the legal form of Academies under the Academies Act (as it will be), presumably sd additional schools created what is now cl 1 of the Bill, and to which the procedural requirements under cls 9 and 10 will apply (SoS to take into account impact of additional school; and the person entering into arrangements with SoS for an additional school to consult “such persons as the person [entering into arrangements] thinks appropriate”.

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