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oversubscription equals free schools success?

12 April 2013

The DfE have released figures which show that almost nine out of ten free schools receive more applications than available places. Free schools are state-funded schools set up by parents or other groups, independent of local council control with the aim of responding to demand from local parents.

The DfE have argued that the figures showed “how popular free schools are with parents”. Critics would argue, however, that merely assessing application data fails to take account of the full picture.  The National Union of Teachers have recently reported that new free schools are opening in areas with a surplus of places, consequently damaging existing schools by drawing away pupils and threatening the viability of services.

Whilst the figures are encouraging, they cannot be seen as a full and objective assessment on the impact of free schools which should also take account of the effect of education in the local communities they are established as a whole.

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