1. ITV Report

10 New Free Schools approved

Stour Valley Community School in Suffolk, one of the region's first Free Schools Photo: ITV Anglia

The government has approved 102 new Free Schools to open in September 2013 and beyond; ten of them in the East of England.

This includes 6 mainstream schools, the majority of which are secondary:

Cambourne Village School (secondary) in Cambridgeshire

Kimberley 16 - 19 STEM College in Bedford

River Bank Primary School in Luton

Sir Isaac Newton Free School (Ages 16-19) in Norwich

Barnfield Fernwood Free School (primary) in Central Bedfordshire

Sir Thomas Fremantle Free School (secondary) in Winslow near Milton Keynes

An all through special school, Churchill Special Free School, has been approved to open in Haverhill in Suffolk and three alternative provision schools have also been approved:

Central Bedfordshire Free School (secondary)

Southend YMCA Community School (14-19)

Thetford AP Free School

The Free School Norwich was visited by the Prime Minister for its opening last September Credit: ITV Anglia

Sir Isaac Newton Free School will become the second Free School in Norwich. It aims to be a sixth form specialising in maths and science, with close links to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital which will provide mentoring and work experience opportunities.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Chairman, David Prior, is also the Chairman-designate of the new free school. He says he's delighted by the news.

“This is wonderful news for sixth form students across Norfolk and north Suffolk who have a natural aptitude and interest in Maths and the Sciences. We will be offering a truly unique experience for students, including structured work experience, who have the potential to study at top universities.

"This is the first school of its kind in the UK and I am so pleased that it will be in Norwich.”

– David Prior NNUH Chairman
A protest against Beccles Free School outside a Waveney District Council Meeting in June Credit: ITV Anglia

24 schools opened last year as part of the first round of Free Schools; three were in the East of England - Stour Valley Community School in Clare, Suffolk, Moorlands School in Luton (a former private school) and The Free School Norwich. A further 50 Free Schools are due to open across the country this September.

The Education Secretary Michael Gove believes that Free Schools will increase the amount of choice available to parents, but it remains a controversial policy. Opponents argue that the new schools take resources from existing schools.

Last month the news that Beccles Free School in Suffolk had only secured 37 pupils for its opening this September caused anger within the local community. The local Conservative MP, Peter Aldous, called for the school to merge with a neighbouring Free School in Saxmudham. The Seckford Foundation which is backing both schools say that the number of pupils signed up for Beccles Free School has now risen to 55 and they expect more students will sign up before the school opens.