38 free schools lack permanent home after three years

The schools have been left on temporary sites for up to eight years

Catherine Lough

free school homeless

Nearly 40 free schools that opened between three and eight years ago are still waiting for a permanent home, figures reveal.

The figures, provided by the Department for Education in a Freedom of Information request, reveal that 38 of the free schools that opened between 2011-12 and 2016-17 are in temporary accommodation.

Exclusive: 'Scandal' of plan to 'waste' £75m on temporary free school sites

News: New DfE property company will 'operate at pace' to deliver 500 new free schools

Exclusive: DfE's secret plan to share free school 'rewards' with private developers

The FOI, submitted by Janet Downs of Local Schools Network, asked which schools that had opened in that period were still without permanent buildings.

As well as the 38 schools that were still in temporary accommodation, a further two had started in a permanent home but had since expanded into buildings that were only temporary. 

Concerns have previously been raised about the number of free schools operating from temporary sites, with the chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hillier, calling it "the next scandal".

In a response to the FOI, the DfE stated that, at present, there are “507 free schools, 48 university technical colleges and 24 studio schools, which will provide over 320,000 places when at capacity".

It added: “The timescales for the free schools process and the length of time it takes to identify, acquire and adapt the right site can mean that it is necessary for a school to open in temporary accommodation."

The DfE noted that when schools did open in temporary accommodation, it ensured they provided value for money and were “safe and suitable” for educational purposes.

“We always endeavour to minimise the amount of time that any project spends in temporary accommodation,” the department said.

Tes has previously reported on how the DfE could waste £75 million on temporary school sites for free schools – information that the department tried to suppress.

The free schools that remain in temporary accommodation are:

  1.            Abacus Belsize Primary School
  2.            Big Creative Academy
  3.            Bray wick Court School
  4.            Canary Wharf College 3
  5.            Compass School Southwark
  6.            Deer Park School
  7.            Ealing Fields High School
  8.            Earl's Court Free School Primary
  9.            East London Science School
  10.          Forest Bridge School
  11.          INSPIRE Free Special School
  12.          International Academy of Greenwich
  13.          Kingston Community School
  14.          Nanaskar Primary School
  15.          Oasis Academy Silvertown
  16.          Olive School, Preston
  17.          One Degree Academy
  18.          Paxton Academy Sports and Science
  19.          Rugby Free Secondary School
  20.          Seva School
  21.          St Andrew the Apostle Greek Orthodox School
  22.          TBAP 16-19 Academic AP Academy
  23.          The Charter School East Dulwich
  24.          The Fulham Boys School
  25.          The Gatwick School
  26.          The Heights Primary School
  27.          The Olive School Hackney
  28.          The Olive School, Birmingham
  29.          The Olive School, Bolton
  30.          The Orchards
  31.          The Royal School, Wolverhampton
  32.          The Spires Academy
  33.          The St Marylebone Church of England Bridge             School
  34.          Turing House School
  35.          Ventures’ Academy
  36.          Wac Arts College
  37.          Walsall Studio School
  38.          Wootton Park School

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

Latest stories

Geoff Barton

Omicron, nativities and the DfE: Another fine mess

Schools are being told what to do by those with no concept of the reality of running a school - and it's only making an already tough situation a lot harder, explains Geoff Barton
Geoff Barton 3 Dec 2021
New headteachers - here are 9 things you need to know

Headteacher wellbeing and sources of 'streth'

Former headteacher Chris McDermott set out to find out the true causes of leader stress and support – and in doing so coined a whole new term, as he explains here
Chris McDermott 2 Dec 2021
Transdisciplinary learning: how to embed it in your school

Why you need a transdisciplinary curriculum

At the Aspirations Academies, six hours a week are dedicated to applied transdisciplinary learning - but how does it work? And should you apply something similar at your school?
Steve Kenning 2 Dec 2021