What's your experience of free schools? Watch

Official House of Commons
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On Wednesday 19 June, Suella Braverman MP is holding a debate in Westminster Hall on the future of free schools. She wants to hear about your experiences:

Have you or someone you know attended a free school?

What was the experience like?

We’ll be feeding back your views to Suella Braverman in the lead up to the debate.

For background information, here are some FAQs on academies and free schools prepared by the House of Commons Library: https://researchbriefings.parliament...ummary/SN07059

Your name, and any information or opinions you provide, may be shared with Suella Braverman MP and used in a parliamentary debate which will be on the record and available on Parliament TV and Hansard. Please ensure that you are happy with your comment before sharing. To see our online discussion rules, please visit: https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-...dia-community/

Westminster Hall is the secondary debating chamber in the House of Commons. Debates are usually attended by MPs from across the political parties, and a Minister must respond to the debate setting out the government’s position. More details here.
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xoxAngel_Kxox
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My twin cousins (M/F) attended a free school, and their parents believe it was the best choice. They were free to do much more than other schools, and came out of it well rounded young people. They are now both going to university and very much looking for to it, and made lots of friends and developed skills that will last a lifetime at their school.
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nintysixthousand
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a free school is a school that doesnt follow the national curriculum, they decide their own curriculum and have independent funding. its different from a state school which is free to go to!
(Original post by YasudaSayo)
Don't the vast majority of people go to free schools? I don't get it, why is this even a question
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statsboi2002
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I go to a sixth form college that's a free school. I chose to go there because it was the best sixth form in my area for the subjects I wanted to do and it had loads of support for getting people into Oxbridge/top universities. It also has an Outstanding rating from Ofsted. The fact that it happens to be a free school didn't really weigh into my decision.

My experience at this free school has been great so far (I'm towards the end of Year 12). The student body is rather quirky and diverse: there are loads of interesting people (I have heard stereotypes about free school kids being weird so that's why I'm mentioning this-- I see weird kids as a good thing) and neuro-atypical people seem to do well at the college. There are a lot of ambitious students aiming for Oxbridge, Medicine etc. There are plenty of societies/clubs to go to and they're always bringing in guest speakers to talk about careers and unis. We seem to do loads cooler stuff than the local state form like trips to universities and in-school activities. The teachers are generally very passionate and knowledgeable about their subjects, and quite a few have Phds which is cool.

The issue with it being a free school is that it's part of a chain of schools and some teachers teach at multiple schools (like different ones on different days of the week). This means that you can't always speak in person to a teacher when you need to. However, they can be contacted by email. I also think there are possibly too many people at the college: the building seems a bit crowded sometimes and some of the classes are a bit bigger than the ones at my local state sixth form. I think they let in a lot of people because they can get more funding. Despite this, they are still oversubscribed every year.

I think free schools get a bit of a bad rap. When I told teachers at my state high school that I was going there some of them didn't like that I was going to a free school. To be fair, I have heard of some really terrible ones but the good ones seem to fill a niche and I'm glad they exist. I just think they should be heavily monitored/regulated.
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ThatJosh
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My school became an academy shortly after I attended it, and the standards seemed to drop massively. All of the 'loved' teachers were leaving and the retention rate year-to-year must've been really low. This may not be reflective of all free schools, but it certainly was my experience. From my perspective, I think that having the school less accountable to national curriculum was a weakness and many people under-performed in exams -- though the school did like to fiddle with statistics to cover it up.
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Obolinda
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academy or free-school?
(Original post by ThatJosh)
My school became an academy shortly after I attended it, and the standards seemed to drop massively. All of the 'loved' teachers were leaving and the retention rate year-to-year must've been really low. This may not be reflective of all free schools, but it certainly was my experience. From my perspective, I think that having the school less accountable to national curriculum was a weakness and many people under-performed in exams -- though the school did like to fiddle with statistics to cover it up.
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ThatJosh
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(Original post by Obolinda)
academy or free-school?
Academy. Essentially, it was a 'normal' school and then became a free-school.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by ThatJosh)
Academy. Essentially, it was a 'normal' school and then became a free-school.
They are NOT the same thing.
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Deggs_14
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Toilets are dirty and smelly with doors missing and are never cleaned. Attitude of kids in worse, many mess around and don’t see the point in school/ education.
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Obolinda
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As Mutley says, they're different. My school also recently turned from comprehensive state school to an academy. Made virtually no difference to me.
(Original post by ThatJosh)
Academy. Essentially, it was a 'normal' school and then became a free-school.
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CoolCavy
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(Original post by Obolinda)
As Mutley says, they're different. My school also recently turned from comprehensive state school to an academy. Made virtually no difference to me.
Same, my school (an all girl's grammar state school) turned into an 'academy' in 2012 or something for finance reasons i think it was (cant really remember tbh). Literally nothing changed, we still all followed the national curriculum and the name didnt even change it was still [censored] grammar school for girls.
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Obolinda
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Yh, pretty much
(Original post by CoolCavy)
Same, my school (an all girl's grammar state school) turned into an 'academy' in 2012 or something for finance reasons i think it was (cant really remember tbh). Literally nothing changed, we still all followed the national curriculum and the name didnt even change it was still [censored] grammar school for girls.
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ITGUY19
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Personally, both me and my sister now go to private school due to bad free schools in my area. We’re quite lucky in my town compared to other school buildings around the country, which as you see on the tv are sometimes in state of disrepair (Mainly on panorama), all school buildings are practically brand new. Most old schools in my area where knocked and merged (probably to save cost) however without getting into education inside. These schools have caused problems. Due to one school being located near a very busy road, staggered start time are being implemented however the school does not like this, causing a local major park (which is very popular with locals) to be destroyed to build a roundabout to ‘reduce traffic’. In terms of education all schools have turned to academics in my area. This has inevitably made it worse. Yes the grades have improved however the way the implementation of it has not gone smoothly. At my sisters school, when an academy took over they ran it military style. Saying to students just leave if they don’t like. Letting fights happen without intervention (one student broke there arm due to this) and shouting at children inappropriately during lunch. The other schools again boast good gcse results however they are run like a ‘factory’ in my opinion. In terms of my education, I was bullied through most of primary schools. So in conclusion me and my sister have had to got to private school, as it’s the only option in my area and my parents sadly have to sacrifice a lot to do this. Also at my sisters previous schools she was not recognised as gifted and talented, when she clearly is. She wasn’t receiving any extra help to the ability she was capable off. This is solely my opinion. I wish to remain anonymous.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by ITGUY19)
Personally, both me and my sister now go to private school due to bad free schools in my area. We’re quite lucky in my town compared to other school buildings around the country, which as you see on the tv are sometimes in state of disrepair (Mainly on panorama), all school buildings are practically brand new. Most old schools in my area where knocked and merged (probably to save cost) however without getting into education inside. These schools have caused problems. Due to one school being located near a very busy road, staggered start time are being implemented however the school does not like this, causing a local major park (which is very popular with locals) to be destroyed to build a roundabout to ‘reduce traffic’. In terms of education all schools have turned to academics in my area. This has inevitably made it worse. Yes the grades have improved however the way the implementation of it has not gone smoothly. At my sisters school, when an academy took over they ran it military style. Saying to students just leave if they don’t like. Letting fights happen without intervention (one student broke there arm due to this) and shouting at children inappropriately during lunch. The other schools again boast good gcse results however they are run like a ‘factory’ in my opinion. In terms of my education, I was bullied through most of primary schools. So in conclusion me and my sister have had to got to private school, as it’s the only option in my area and my parents sadly have to sacrifice a lot to do this. Also at my sisters previous schools she was not recognised as gifted and talented, when she clearly is. She wasn’t receiving any extra help to the ability she was capable off. This is solely my opinion. I wish to remain anonymous.
A 'normal' state school is not what is being talked about here! A Free school is a recent 'invention'

It is an independent state-funded school.
Last edited by Muttley79; 4 weeks ago
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ThatJosh
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(Original post by Muttley79)
They are NOT the same thing.
The government’s FAQ said that an academy is a normal school turned free school. If I’ve misread that, disregard my comments, but I think they are relevant.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by ThatJosh)
The government’s FAQ said that an academy is a normal school turned free school. If I’ve misread that, disregard my comments, but I think they are relevant.
That is not correct - a Free school is an independent school funded by the state.

https://www.gov.uk/types-of-school/free-schools
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