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Greater transparency in the free schools process?

18 January 2013

The Information Tribunal has ruled that the Department for Education must publish a list of applicants who wish to open a free school. This ruling followed the DfE’s refusal to list applications when approached by newspapers, the Association of Colleges and the British Humanist Society. The ruling set out that as the free schools programme was subject to substantial public funding and had a significant impact on how education services were controlled, managed and delivered, it was important to provide full details of all applicants for public scrutiny to improve the public’s understanding and confidence in the programme. The DfE and New Schools Network had argued that greater transparency may undermine the process and deter applicants from putting forward their suggestions for free school projects.

It is not clear whether greater transparency will assist in the aim of the free school policy – to bridge the gap between the 'haves' and 'have-nots' but it may provide greater public confidence in what remains a controversial government policy.

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