EXCLUSIVE: 37 free schools have been in temporary buildings for three years or more

Janet Downs's picture

Thirty-seven free schools which have been open for three years or more are still in temporary accommodation, Freedom of Information reveals.

No free school opened in 2011 is still in temporary buildings.  Only one 2012 opener, Cobham Free School, is still partly in temporary accommodation.  Originally set up as a junior school, it expanded to include a secondary department in 2014.  The school, currently operating on a split-site, submitted planning permission in August to extend Munro House where the sixth form is housed to accommodate Key Stages 2, 3 and 4.  A decision is expected in December.

Eight free schools which opened in 2013 are still in temporary buildings.  These include Abacus Belsize Primary School, which is run by CfBT Schools Trust (renamed Anthem Schools Trust in July).  Abacus Belsize has faced ongoing opposition to its plans to move into a former Hampstead police station.  A scaled-down planning application for the building was submitted in May.  Consultation ended on 2 October.    

Eleven free schools opening in September 2014 are still without a permanent base.  These include:

Braywick Court School, Maidenhead, run by Bellevue Place Education Trust, has been beset with construction difficulties.  It was hoped  permanent premises would be completed by September 2019 but the last building update on the school’s website is dated July 2018.

Earl’s Court Free School Primary, part of the Knowledge Schools Trust set up by journalist Toby Young, doesn’t yet have ‘an official start for the building project’ but will keep parents informed.

Seva School, Coventry, is an all-through Sikh faith school run by the Sevak Education Trust.  Following an inadequate judgement in 2016, the Department for Education said Seva should move to another trust.   A recent inspection in January upgraded Seva to requires improvement.  Inspectors said Sevak’s trustees and the DfE sill hadn’t reached agreement about the new sponsor. 

The school is currently housed in a converted business unit in a Coventry business park but inspectors said trustees had ‘acquired a second unit and a substantial plot of land on the same business park.’  Trustees told parents in September that ‘the feasibility stage of Seva School Buildings Expansion’ had begun.

Four 2015 openers remain in temporary accommodation.  These include Kingston Community School, run by Chapel Street Community Schools Trust which is currently subject to a Financial Notice to Improve.

Fourteen free schools which opened in September 2016 have no permanent home.  They include:

The International Academy of Greenwich, mired in planning issues,

Rugby Free Secondary School, recently judged inadequate.  It caused controversy last year when the head departed suddenly.

The Royal School, Wolverhampton, a former independent school, has trebled in size since becoming a free school, Ofsted said in July.  The ‘rapid growth’ had been managed ‘exceptionally well; despite ‘major building works around the site and several year groups have been taught in temporary or cramped conditions’.  Nevertheless, a ‘good standard of education’ had been maintained.

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