A free school that was forced to tell pupils it would not be opening just a week before they were meant to start has finally opened its doors 12 months later.
The One in a Million Free School in Bradford is to be among 93 new free schools to open their gates this month, the government accounced today. Prime minister David Cameron described the free school policy as one of the “most important reforms to education in this country for a generation”.
The One in a Million school, which is located in a former ticket office of Bradford City Football Club, had hoped to start accepting students this time last year.
However, just days before it was expected to open the Department for Education pulled its funding. The DfE said the school had been asked to defer opening for a year because it failed to enrol 50 pupils, securing just 30 instead.
The group behind the school had already spent £213,000 of taxpayers’ money refitting the building on adjacent to Bradford City’s Valley Parade football ground and was forced to mothball the project for a year.
This week, the school, backed by the One in a Million charity and former Bradford City player Wayne Jacobs, took in a cohort of 60 students ready for the start of the new academic year.
According to the DfE, the latest tranche of free schools will create 46,000 new places and will double the number of such schools bringing the total to 174.
Among the most recent wave of schools is Perry Beeches III, which is the second free school to be opened by former TES Outstanding School of the Year, Perry Beeches, in Birmingham.
This month will also witness the opening of the Judith Kerr Primary School in south London, which was established with the help of the renowned children’s author who wrote Mog and the Tiger that Came to Tea.
It will be a bilingual school in English and German, with children being taught both languages from reception.
Education secretary Michael Gove said free schools were now an integral part of the growing success story of state education in England.
“They are hugely popular, giving parents greater choice in communities poorly served for generations,” Mr Gove said. “Their success reflects incredibly well on the teachers who work in them and the parents who support them.”
The new schools were not welcomed, however, by teaching unions who branded the policy as an "entirely unnecessary expense".
"At a time when there is a chronic shortage of school places around parts of the country, in particular at primary level, many are being opened where there is already a surplus of school places. This is a clear dereliction of duty by Government, NUT general secretary Christine Blower said.
"State education needs to be coherently planned and organised. It is not Michael Gove but local authorities who have the best oversight of the pupil population in their area and who should decide where additional provision is needed."