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Government sets up 'free schools starter-kit' site

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The government’s schools-building quango has launched a new online tool for anyone looking to set up a free school.

Partnerships for Schools’ (PfS) Free School Kit website maps education data within a chosen geographical area and is designed for parents and community groups to quickly check the potential to set up one of education secretary Michael Gove’s favoured ‘free schools’.

Users pinpoint a particular area, and the site flags up existing schools, empty government buildings and other proposed free schools within a five mile radius.

Markers show details about existing schools, including results, Ofsted rating and the number of surplus places. 

PfS chief executive Tim Byles said the site would make technical and specialist advice available at any time to anyone who wanted it.

“Free schools proposers can now pinpoint a possible location on the map and explore within a five-mile radius to compare the performance of other local education providers,” he said.

“This practical tool will help new school groups to make a sound business case by comparing where existing schools are under or over-subscribed and to start looking for possible sites for their new Free Schools.”

Former Norfolk CC chief executive Mr Byles said he had been surprised there was no site bringing together the information when PfS began its development work on the project.

“We hope this proves to be an invaluable tool for all parents, not just those wanting to set up a free school,” he said.

Rachel Wolf, director of the New Schools Network, said: “This is a welcome tool for anyone thinking about setting up a school – and for any parent wanting to understand more about education provision in their local area.”

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