Lack of parental support scuppers leading free school

Newham Free Academy in East London will not be opening in September because it cannot prove sufficient demand from parents. The mixed secondary school was withdrawn from the free schools programme after a parliamentary question from the shadow education secretary. 

The Newham free school’s demise became public after Stephen Twigg, the shadow education secretary, asked how many pupils had applied to it for September 2012, The BBC reports.

Schools minister Nick Gibb replied that: “…the proposal to establish Newham Free Academy has not progressed sufficiently for it to proceed to opening and it has been withdrawn from the free schools programme.”

The collapse of the school because of lack of demand underlines concerns that the free schools programme is not sufficiently focused on need, although the school’s founders claimed to have ‘developed large community links in Newham with many parents and families worried about secondary school provision in their local area’.

Commenting on the collapse, Mr Twigg said: “Ministers need to get a grip on this programme to ensure money is not wasted on projects that are unlikely to succeed.”

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