Where will the next wave of free schools be? We still don’t know…

Free school applicants claim they have been “left in the dark” by the delay in announcing the latest successful bids.

Schools Week understands the names of successful wave 12 proposals were due to be announced at the beginning of March, but applicants are still waiting to hear if they have got the go-ahead.

The delay has also pushed back wave 13 applications, expected to have opened some time last month.

The delay is also squeezing the timeframe for wave 12 schools due to open in September next year, many in areas that need more places.

Delays could also impact the government’s manifesto pledge to open 500 new free schools in this parliament. Another 133 still need to be announced (and to open before 2020) to meet the target.

New College Swindon is waiting to hear if its proposals to open the Great Western Primary Academy will get the nod of approval.

Graham Taylor, New College’s principal, said he was expecting an announcement in the first week of March. “We’re completely in the dark.”

Schools Week understands the sign-off for the announcement is now with ministers.

Great Western is due to open in 2019, but New College Swindon plans to submit two more free school applications under wave 13. Taylor urged the government to push this back to September so schools have enough time to put together their applications.

Civil servants have previously said that most free schools needed 26 months from approval to opening.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “There has been no delay to wave 12 and we will announce the outcome shortly. We will confirm the arrangements and timetable for the next round of free school applications (wave 13) in due course.”

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  1. Andrew

    I think we need to have a long hard think about these proposed new free schools. If we look at UTCs, we see an experiment that has gone catastrophically wrong. Graham Taylor mentioned in this article is not a qualified teacher, has never worked in a school and yet is being allowed to set up a secondary school with a longer school day. How is he going to achieve this when other schools are struggling financially with a normal day? And now, he’s put in bids for a further 3 schools in the town before showing his organisation is capable of running a single school. It should be noted that the results at his FE college are no great shakes. The progress on vocational courses is in the bottom 24% of the country.