Today is the deadline for submitting a bid to open a Free School in 2013, as part of the ‘third wave’ of applications. 337 groups have indicated to the New Schools Network that they intend to bid. The British Humanist Association has been able to identify 39 proposals for ‘faith’ or pseudoscientific schools, out of 102 identified in total.
Free Schools are a type of Academy, used to refer to Academies that are brand new state schools (as opposed to those converting from the maintained school sector). Free Schools and Academies have more freedoms than other types of ‘faith’ school. They do not need to follow the National Curriculum, can teach faith-based RE, and teachers they employ do not need to have qualified teacher status. They can use a religious test in selecting all teaching staff, and are able to religiously discriminate in admissions (though for Free Schools, only for up to 50% of the intake).
In addition, the government has recently published the first model funding agreements for University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and Studio schools – two other types of Academy. These types of schools cannot register with a religious character, but there is nothing to stop them from having a ‘faith ethos’. Like Free Schools, they are only able to select up to 50% of their intake on grounds of faith. Like Academies, but unlike Free Schools, there is nothing precluding these schools from teaching creationism or other pseudoscience.
BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘We’ve been able to identify a large number of faith-based bids, but we speculate that there may be as many as 100 groups applying to set up ‘faith’ or pseudoscientific Free Schools.
‘We are already working with local campaigners to oppose a number of these proposals, and will continue to keep pressure up on the Department for Education (DfE) to vigorously scrutinise and if need be reject bids.’
Free School bids identified by the BHA (140 – last updated 29 June):
Either with a ‘faith ethos’, or a formally designated religious character.
Church of England (8):
Greek Orthodox (1):
Christian Schools Trust (Creationist) (2):
Exclusive Bretheren (1):
Other Christian (14):
Seventh-Day Adventist (1):
Hasidic Jewish (1):
Orthodox Jewish (1):
Other Jewish (3):
Bids without a ‘faith ethos’ or religious character (90):
Deutche Bilingual Primary School; Stoke by Nayland Free School; Cobham Free School; Phoenix Free School (Manchester); School in Harborough; Hadlow Rural Community School; Everton FC school; Chichester Free School; Oakbank (Wokingham); Ixworth and Stanton Free School Group; Coast School for Active Learning (Grimsby – 2014); “Putney Hospital” Free School; Route 39 (Devon); Hackney New School; New Islington Free School (Manchester Grammar School); Sun School (Brighton); Harperbury Free School (2014); Oxford New School; Netherleigh and Rossefield School (Bradford); Oxford Pillars School; Rivington Park School (Bolton); East London Science School; Thomson House School (Richmond); Heyford Park Free School (Oxford); Boston Primary Free School; New Local School for Twickenham; Hadlow Rural Community School; Holyport Free School (Windsor and Maidenhead – 2014); Benjamin’s School (Norwich, Norfolk); Hatcham Temple Grove Free School (Lewisham); Harris Free School Tottenham; Sparkwell Primary Free School; Rosewood School (Southampton); Basingstoke (Rooksdown Community Centre); West London Free School (primary); The Cedars School (Peterborough); Tottenham Hotspur Free School;Academy of Entrepreneurial and Sporting Excellence (Tottenham); Marine Academy Plymouth (primary); Three Peaks Community Academy ; Saxmundham Free School (Suffolk); Sir Isaac Newton Free School (focusing on maths and science, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and Ormiston Victory Academy); The International Academy of Greenwich; West Newcastle Academy (Kids and Us); Diaspora High School; Class Free School (London – Billy Elliott); Future Free School (Norwich); Lynch Hill School secondary (Slough); Plymouth School of Creative Arts; Free Special School for Haverhill (Samuel Ward Academy Trust); Graveney School primary (Tooting); Aspirations Academies Trust (Gloucestershire); Aspirations Academies Trust (Banbury); The Maltings (Halifax); Rainbow Primary School (Bradford); Rainbow Primary School (Leeds); Education4Crowland; Harwell Enterprise Academy (Bicester); Bilingual Spanish Free School (Brighton and Hove); Warrington Montessori Free School Project; Maria Montessori Primary School (Windsor and Maidenhead); Birkenshaw, Birstall and Gomersal (BBG) Academy; the Wells Free School (Tunbridge Wells); The Free School Leeds; Slough Association of Headteachers proposal; Constable Education Trust primary (Balham); RJ Mitchell Free School (Bucknall); Newcastle College Group (NCG) Free School; Fledglings Limited Free School (Salford); The Free School Oxford; Haringey E-ACT Free School; Autistic School (National Autistic Society SEN school, Reading); Leicester Academy of Sport; Constable Education Trust primary (Westminster); Constable Education Trust primary (Tower Hamlets); East Sussex Free School; Heath Technology College 16-19 Free School (Halton); Sir Thomas Fremantle School (Winslow); Make It Shine free school (Holderness, SEN); St Martin’s Academy (Chester, North West Academies); Frank Field’s Wirral free school; The Visually Impaired Special Needs (VISN) Academy, Sevenoaks; Thetford Free School (Norwich, SEN); King’s Science Academy second school (Darnall, Sheffield), Rainbow School (Leeds); Seaford Head Community College sixth form (East Sussex); The Archer Academy (Local Schools for Local Children – East Finchley); The Reach Free School (Rickmansworth); Belsize Free School (Belsize Park); Tiger Primary School (Future Schools Trust – Maidstone); Rivington Park School; Prince’s Community School (Southend)
Some of these groups may not have submitted applications, but all have suggested intent to do so.
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7462 4993.
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/faith-schools
View the BHA’s table of types of school with a religious character: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/schools-with-a-religious-character.pdf
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.