Is the funding for free schools secure?

(9 Posts)
whokilleddannylatimer Sun 31-Mar-13 15:38:55

One of my dc is due to go to secondary next year.
We looked round a year early due to her SEN and felt the free school would be the best environment for her as it had much more life skills teaching and the two other options are VERY academically pushy.

But I am really worried because I have no idea how secure the funding is, I am concerned with the current economic situation it could be removed after so many years/closed if numbers do not rise (its very small) and such.
Can anyone help?

prh47bridge Sun 31-Mar-13 18:14:18

Funding for any school in the state system, including free schools, is mainly based on the number of pupils. The funding will not be removed completely just because the number of pupils is small, nor can anyone force the school to close. As long as the school remains financially viable it can continue to operate.

muminlondon Sun 31-Mar-13 20:35:12

They get a start-up grant and a small fixed sum every year in addition to variable funding according to pupil numbers. But any school that fails to attract pupils will not be able to run the full range of courses. Schools that have smaller class sizes in general may have fewer classroom assistants to fund other specialist teachers, for example. But if numbers fluctuate from one year to the next they will have to cut staff and combine classes at some point.

IAmLouisWalsh Sun 31-Mar-13 21:16:29

No.

One was unable to open at very short notice last year as funding was withdrawn.

Be wary.

prh47bridge Mon 01-Apr-13 00:30:22

Just for clarity, the school to which IAmLouisWalsh refers was asked to defer opening for a year. Contrary to some press reports its funding was not withdrawn. The funding was never signed off.

Once it is fully approved the government signs a legal agreement with the free school. The government is then legally obliged to provide funding equivalent to that received by community schools plus some extra to account for the additional costs faced by free schools. If it wants to terminate the agreement the government generally has to give 7 years notice.

If the free school to which you refer is already open you can safely ignore the last poster's concern. It won't suddenly have its funding withdrawn.

IAmLouisWalsh Mon 01-Apr-13 08:50:43

Sorry - I did know that and didn't read OP thoroughly.

I am always a bit wary of free schools, though - I looked at a job in one which is due to open this September, just out of nosiness: no premises, no funding signed off yet and they are asking people to commit to a job with no contract until the money appears. A colleague accepted a post in another one but was given the same spiel - no actual contract til funding signed off.

I know you know your stuff, prh47bridge - but given that the first free school inspections have been less than glowing, and the size of some, is it really guaranteed that they will continue? I work in a very small state secondary and we are worried about being forced to close because of falling rolls - how can free schools be exempt, other than because they are Gove's pet project?

titchy Mon 01-Apr-13 12:55:39

The irony of an OP choosing the free school as it's the LEAST academic option grin

prh47bridge Mon 01-Apr-13 15:46:08

There is, of course, no guarantee that any school will continue indefinitely.

The academy funding agreement used for both free schools and academies does not have any provision for forcing closure of an academy just because it has falling rolls. This is also true of the funding agreement used by the last government. However, an academy can be forced to close if it becomes insolvent which is a possible outcome of falling rolls.

There are a number of other situations in which an academy or free school can be forced to close such as persistent underperformance.

whokilleddannylatimer Mon 01-Apr-13 16:08:52

Thanks all.

Titchy what I meant is the other two schools are very high scoring and very academically pushy, sen children as a rule don't do well at either.

The free school has been open since September so no academic record. They however had a TA in every class and did lots of hands on learning more suitable to my sen dc. They are very keen on parental involvement and a lot smaller. The oldest children in the school when dc goes would be 13 and 90 in school. At the other schools she would be one of more than 1600!

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