Free schools are new schools set up by bodies other than LAs to provide state-funded independent education. They may be primary, secondary, special or alternative provision schools, but not nurseries.
Charities, groups of teachers, existing schools and parents can set up these new schools if they can prove that they are needed and wanted by a local community.
The aim of free schools is to provide further diversity in school provision which will drive up standards and increase choice. They have been established under academies legislation and as such have the same freedoms and flexibilities.
The charity New Schools Network can provide information and advice on how to set up a free school. http://newschoolsnetwork.org;
Free schools in Oxfordshire
The first free school in Oxfordshire was the Europa School, Culham which opened in September 2012. It is a 784 place trilingual languages and science non-faith school.
Two more free schools opened in Oxfordshire in September 2013. These are:
- Tyndale Community School, a primary school for 420 pupils based in Oxford.
- Heyford Park School, a co-educational all through school for 840 pupils in North Oxfordshire.
There are currently no further approved free schools in the programme for Oxfordshire.
Application to open a free school
There will be opportunities to apply to open a free school in March and September each year for the rest of the current Parliament.
See DfE site for further information on the application process.
University Technical Colleges (UTCs)
University Technical Colleges (UTCs) specialise in subjects that need modern, technical, industry-standard equipment – such as engineering and construction – and teach these disciplines alongside business skills and the use of ICT.
UTCs in Oxfordshire
A UTC in Didcot opened in September 2015 offering co-educational places to young people aged 14-19 years specialising in life sciences, physical sciences and engineering.
Application to open a UTC
The next deadline for applications to open a UTC is 29th January 2016, guidance will be published by the DfE in the autumn of 2015.
See DfE site for more information:
Studio schools provide education for 14-19 year olds using project-based learning to deliver mainstream qualifications, develop students’ employability skills and prepare them for work, or further or higher education.
Studio schools in Oxfordshire
A Space Studio School opened in Banbury in September 2014 as part of the Aspirations Academy Trust.
There are approved plans for a new Bicester Technology Studio School to open in September 2016.
Application to open a studio school
Applications to open a studio school can be made to the DfE.
See DfE site for more information.