Five new 'free schools' set to open in the Westcountry
Five "free schools" in the Westcountry will be among the second wave of the coalition Government's flagship education policy to open this week.
In total, 93 free schools are due to admit pupils for the first time this week, the Department for Education (DfE) said, bringing the overall number of open free schools to 174.
They include two in Plymouth – the School of Creative Arts and the Marine Academy Primary – Sparkwell All Saints Primary on the outskirts of the city, Route 39 Academy at Higher Clovelly, north Devon, and the Steiner Academy in Exeter.
Free schools are semi-independent schools set up by groups including parents, teachers and charities.
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Of the 93 schools opening this month 35 are primaries, 42 are secondaries, 11 are all-age schools and five will cater for 16 to 19-year-olds.
When these schools are full, they will provide an extra 46,000 places for pupils, the DfE said.
Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that free schools "are one of the most important reforms to education in this country for a generation" and are "allowing people with a passion for giving children the best start in life to set up schools and making sure teachers in those schools have more freedom to do what they think is best".
Education Secretary Michael Gove said these schools were "an integral part of the growing success story of state education in England".
There are also 12 universal technical colleges (UTC) and 13 studio schools opening this term, including the Devon Health Studio in Torbay and UTC Plymouth.
From next September, Exeter University is to help open a new free school specialising in maths.
The university will jointly run one of the government's flagship free schools with Exeter College, with a fifth of pupils will be able to stay at the university between Monday and Thursday in a bid to attract youngsters from across the South West.
Cornwall already boasts a new private catholic secondary school at Camborne, called St Michael's, a free school.
Free schools are established by groups including parents, teachers, faith groups and charities and have powers to decide how they spend their budgets and set their own curriculum, teaching hours and term-times. Teaching unions have claimed that they adversely affect neighbouring schools.