Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Glory Days of Parent Power Prove Short-Lived: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Glory Days of Parent Power Prove Short-Lived: News

Article excerpt

Number of free schools set up by parents in England dwindles.

The proportion of new free schools in England being set up by parent groups has fallen to just 5 per cent, an analysis of the latest cohort of state-funded independent schools has shown.

The UK government announced this week that 102 new free schools had been approved to open from 2014, bringing the total number of such schools to 292. But just 5 per cent of the new schools are being set up by parent groups. That figure rises to only 7 per cent if parent groups working in collaboration with community groups are included.

The free-school policy gives parents the power to set up their own school if they are unhappy with the existing provision. In 2011, a third of the initial wave of free schools were started by parents, the most high- profile of whom was journalist Toby Young, who established the West London Free School.

Ministers soon tightened the criteria that applicants needed to meet. While Mr Young predicted in 2011 that it would become harder for parents to start free schools, he told TES this week: "It is worth noting that while parent groups may be declining as a percentage, teacher-led groups are increasing. …

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