EXCLUSIVE: DfE to release free school application forms

The Department for Education (DfE) has agreed to release application forms submitted for all successful free schools, after a freedom of information battle lasting two years. Some of the documents could be released as early as this afternoon.

The DfE has previously refused to make the documents available, arguing that to do so would give an unfair advantage to other potential applications, and open those who applied up to unwarranted scrutiny.

Application forms will initially be released for seven free schools, after they were requested specifically through freedom of information (FOI) requests.

The seven free schools due to be in the first release are: Al-Madinah School in Derby; Sandymoor School in Runcorn; University Cathedral Free School in Chester; St Martin’s Academy in Chester; Tyndale Community School in Oxford; Gildredge House in Eastbourne; Didsbury CE Free School, set to open in south Manchester.

Application forms for wave one-to-three free schools will be published before Christmas the DfE said, with other waves following. The DfE has also agreed to publish application forms and decision letters for future successful free school.

Application forms and decision letters for unsuccessful free school proposals will not be released.

In the application forms, free school proposers must provide details of the demand for the school and details about how it would be run.

Laura McInerney – now deputy editor of Schools Week ­­– requested application forms for all free school. Other FOI applicants requested the documents for the seven free schools, details for which are to be released first.

The DfE took Ms McInerney’s request – for the application forms of both successful and unsuccessful free schools – to a judicial hearing in June, where it argued that it would cost too much to redact details of all of the documents. The judge in the case agreed with this decision, though found that it would not be too costly to answer individual requests for application forms.

The DfE said that it would not be commenting further on the release.

UPDATED, 17:25, 25 September:

The first seven free school application forms have now been published by the DfE. They can be found here:

Al-Madinah School

Sandymoor School

University Cathedral Free School

St Martin’s Academy

Tyndale Community School

Gildredge House

Didsbury CE Free School

 

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