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Free schools planned for Wokingham, Haringey, Greenwich, Bedfordshire, Lewisham, Peterborough...

Parents in villages to the west of Wokingham are fed up that their distance from secondary schools which means they "find themselves at the bottom of  the list which takes away any choice."

They have come up with a proposal for a free school. Thus far 365 have signed up to support and a partnership has been formed with the CfBT Schools Trust. 

In Haringey I have already noted plans for an independent school, Wisdom School, which mainly caters for  Turkish children to become a free school in order to expand. Now there is news of the Academy of Entrepreneurship and Sporting Excellence. It will a free school for secondary school age children opening in September next year. There would be classes in how to set up and run a business and how the Stock Market works.

The Haringey Independent quotes lawyer Stephanie Pinnock, who is leading the bid, saying:

 “Having to attend underperforming schools would have a permanent detrimental effect on our children's futures.

“There are approximately 4,500 Haringey schoolchildren who are due to start secondary school next year – but due to the fact that many Haringey schools are performing so badly, around half of these children have apparently chosen schools outside the borough.

“As the system does not select by ability, this could mean that a straight 'A' student could be sent to a very poorly performing school and this will affect the college that child is able to get into and also the University that child will have access to.”

Similarly in Greenwich there is already the Shooters Hill Primary School of the Arts planned to start as a free school. There is also news of proposed secondary school specialising in languages, the International Academy of Greenwich. It will follow the International Baccalaureate, teach French and one other foreign lannguage, and is likely to be especially popular with the many bilingual children in the borough.

In Bedfordshire a group of parents in Potton report fantastic support for starting the Potton Academy -  they will open next year if they can find a site.

In Lewisham an experienced teacher called Kay Johnston is due to deliver a business plan to the Department of Education for a free school next month. Called the Diaspora High School will offer vocational courses to help tackle unemployment.

It says on its website:

Lewisham is a large net exporter of pupils to other boroughs and also has one of the highest unemployment rates in London. Children are leaving primary school without the basic skills to follow the curriculum set in secondary school in turn this results in them leaving secondary school where without the relevant life skills for success.

The underachievement of White working class boys & Black British/Caribbean boys is creating a cohort of excluded children, who are placed at a severe disadvantage when entering adult life. Parents and the community are eager for a solution.

In Peterborough the Greenwood Academies Trust are planning to open the City of Peterborough Academy in 2013. The local Conservative council are strongly supportive.

While all these examples are encouraging they face a struggle to come to fruition. So the Government should adopt the recommendation from the Adam Smith Institute to allow free schools operators to make a profit. 


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