A report in the Guardian today (other newspapers are available!) on the rising cost of establishing a free school says that the cost is now £6.6 million, double the original cost.
It also points out that
“Ministers and civil servants have been asked by the National Audit Office (NAO) to target spending on areas with the greatest need after discovering that a quarter of all places at the schools were unfilled in the first year the schools opened.”
This does not bode well for the proposed Steiner school here, where it has been established that there is no need for new school places.
Also mentioned is the fact that children attending free schools are likely to travel twice as far as those attending neighbouring mainstream schools and that free schools have been “largely colonised by the middle classes”, with Free School children being less likely to receive free school meals.
There is also a reaction to the National Audit Office report from the Local Schools Network.
The idea of a free school does seem unsuitable in a town the size of Stroud, where it will have a significant impact on choice, especially if other schools end up in difficulties. In a city perhaps it would have a different effect, providing more choice, if that is really what parents want.
In my opinion, most parents just want improvement in the quality of existing schools, and for ideology to be left out of education.