18/06/2010

Free Schools To 'Harness Teachers' Passion'

The process for setting up and running so-called 'free schools' to allow teachers, charities and parents to develop facilities in response to parental demand is to be revised.

The Education Secretary Michael Gove has today explained how independent state schools run by teachers - and not bureaucrats or politicians - will be more accountable to parents.

He said that the Government has already set out plans to give teachers the option to take on greater professional freedoms. Today's announcement will now see the Government "harnessing the passion and innovation of teachers even further" by allowing them to set up schools for the first time.

Mr Gove said that the process for how groups can start new schools is to be clearer and has published a proposal form for groups to fill out.

He said this would include allowing a wider range of sites, including residential and commercial property, to be used as schools without the need for 'change of use' consent.

There will also be an extension of powers to protect existing schools' sites, to make sure they are kept available for use by new schools where there is demand.

He is also to reallocate £50m of funding from the Harnessing Technology Grant to create a Standards and Diversity Fund.

This will provide capital funding for Free Schools up to 31 March 2011.

Funding for free schools will be a top priority for the Department in the forthcoming Spending Review.

"The most important element of a great education is the quality of teaching and Free Schools will enable excellent teachers to create new schools and improve standards for all children.

"This Government believes that passionate teachers who want to make a real difference to education should have the opportunity," the Education Secretary said.

"That's why I am today inviting groups to complete a proposal form and enter a process to set up new free schools."

The new Free Schools will also be 'incentivised' to concentrate on the poorest children by the introduction of 'Pupil Premium' which will see schools receiving extra funds for educating children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"In this country, too often the poorest children are left with the worst education while richer families can buy their way to quality education via private schools or expensive houses.

"By allowing new schools we will give all children access to the kind of education only the rich can afford - small schools with small class sizes, great teaching and strong discipline," he concluded.

(BMcC/GK)

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