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  Screen capture from Free Schools - For or Against?

Free Schools - For or Against?

The Government legislated free schools in the Academies Act 2010 and since announcing the plans for the all-ability state-funded schools, several teaching unions have voiced their concerns about where the money is coming from.

"We wanted to set up an academy that differed to all previous academies" - Toby Young

The Department for Education said that the initiative was set up in response to parental demand and the aim is to make it easier for charities, universities, businesses, educational groups, teachers and groups of parents to start a new school.

However, a further concern is that free schools will allow private companies to make millions out of schools in England, and that the policy breaks the Government's rules on fairness, responsibility and value for money.

Free school founder, Toby Young is currently helping to create a free school in West London and he shared his experiences of setting up a free school with teachers.

He said: "The lesson that my group has learnt quite painfully is that trying to do too many things differently to the way they've been done hitherto is a mistake. We wanted to set up an academy that differed to all previous academies in three respects. It would be sponsored by a parent and teacher group, we'd outsource the management of the school to a service provider, and we would lease the building we were in. And over the course of the last 18 months, we've discovered that two and three are just completely unrealistic."

Applications for free schools began on June the 18th, and the first sixteen schools, named on September 6th, are expected to open from September 2011.

Further infomation on the Free Schools policy can be found at www.education.gov.uk/freeschools

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