Half of new primary free schools fail to fill all their places

Half of new primary free schools fail to fill all their places

Parents reluctant to send their children to new free schools, as some delay launches after problems with sites

Half of the primary free schools scheduled to open this autumn still have unfilled places, despite high national demand for places in reception classes. An analysis of the 26 free schools due to open in September 2014 by the Department for Education shows 13 primaries still had places available reflecting concerns in some localities about Michael Gove’s controversial educational initiative.

Other free schools that had been due to launch have struggled to reach the starting line with seven more pushing back their launch for a year, because they failed to secure sites, because they withdrew or delayed opening, and in one case because the DfE abruptly cancelled its permission to open.

Labour described the situation as a “damning indictment”, while some parents in the areas where free schools were due to open complained of disorganisation and a lack of information. The Department for Education said that it was common for schools to have unfilled places.

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