Free schools – evaluation difficult as too early, expert comment

The government has announced a further 22 free schools which will provide 18,000 more pupil places. Two of the new free schools will specialise in computer science, technology and the arts, and will be run by the Aspirations Academy Trust founded by the videogame businessman, Ian Livingstone. 

An advisory group of experienced property specialists has also been set up to find sites for future free schools. 

Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary said, “Free schools are offering a rigorous education in communities which have never before had the opportunity of a good local school. Parents are flocking to them in their droves – and today’s announcement means that over 18,000 more children can benefit from a place in a free school.”

Comment from Becky Francis, Professor of Education, King’s College London: 

“Given the Government’s commitment to expanding the Free School programme we need urgently to explore their quality and outcomes for pupils, and, given changes in the programme over time, whether indeed Free Schools are distinctive from other schools in either content or origin. Evaluations remain difficult at the stage as few have been open long enough to produce attainment data.”

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