A free school is a type of academy: free to attend, non-profit making and independent from local authority control. Free schools are funded directly by central government and have more control over how they do things. They are exempt from teaching the National Curriculum and have greater control over teachers’ pay and the length of school terms and days. 374 free schools in England have opened and the Conservative government has pledged to open 500 more by 2020. The hope is that the competition created by these schools will drive up standards in the surrounding area.

Map of the open free schools in England

In order to open a free school, the core team must write and submit a full business case which covers the aim and rationale of the school, proof of need and parental support in the area, an education plan, a finance and governance plan and detailed CVs to prove the capability of the team applying. This case is then examined and judged and short-listed applicants are called to interview by the Department for Education. Successful applications will be given permission to open and receive money to do so from central government funds.

The government put aside £650 million in 2011 to build free schools. At the same time, local authorities lost their power to create any new schools so all new provisions now have to open through the free school programme. This can put local authorities in a difficult position, as they are still responsible for placing all local pupils in a school.

Da Vinci School would provide not only much-needed extra school places in this area but also a choice for those who do not suit or do not necessarily want to follow the conventional school path. Our motto is ‘One School for All’. We will use our freedoms to be flexible to the needs and interests of our students, to be more personal and therefore suited to all, not just the conventional. Every year we are seeing more and more children being shoehorned into the local schools, particularly at Secondary level. The days of the smaller school, where the Head knew everyone’s name, seem to be rapidly disappearing and that just doesn’t suit every child. We need to have the choice – grammar, non-grammar; church-non-church; large, small; single sex, mixed cohort. Please support us in helping to provide this choice for the children of Edenbridge, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.

You can sign our petition here to show your support: