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Increasing demand for free schools

17 February 2011

September 2011 saw the launch of the first 24 free schools with a further 72 set to open in September 2012. The DfE has confirmed that groups wanting to open mainstream, special and alternative provision free schools in September 2013 can now submit their detailed plans.

Free schools are proving very popular with parents with 15 of the first 24 being oversubscribed even before opening. There seems to be a gap in the education provision market that free schools have catered for, particularly for those young people in deprived areas, offering them a greater chance of establishing themselves in an increasingly competitive and difficult economical climate.

Free schools are established from scratch, therefore differing from the academies programme which requires schools to convert with the same characteristics that they have as a maintained school. However, like academies, the key principle is greater freedoms, for example the ability to vary the school day and the curriculum.

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