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Government announces wave of free schools in Kent

PUBLISHED: 08:21 12 April 2017 | UPDATED: 08:57 12 April 2017

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Stone Lodge Academy in Dartford and Barton Court Academy Free School are among the applications approved today

Non-selective free schools are to be provided by some of the county’s biggest grammar schools and education trusts in a flagship government announcement.

The Department for Education has today approved applications for 131 new schools, creating more than 69,000 places, including a number in Kent.

Free schools are one of the highest performing groups of non-selective state schools, with 29 per cent of those inspected rated outstanding by Ofsted.

Since 2014, more than 80 per cent of mainstream free schools have been approved in areas where there was a need for more school places, while others are opened in response to parental demand to create competition and drive up standards where existing provision is not adequate.

Among the institutions put forward is Barton Court Academy Free School, a new non-selective free school providing 1,050 school places for 11 to 19-year-olds in Canterbury, proposed by the Ofsted-outstanding Barton Court Grammar School in the city.

Another school set to come to Kent is Stone Lodge Academy, a new secondary school for 11 to 19 year-olds in Dartford proposed by Endeavour Multi Academy Trust.

The trust already runs two grammar schools and will use its expertise running selective schools to open a new non-selective free school.

Elsewhere, three more will be opened by the Leigh Academies Trust in the coming years, after it also received approval by the DfE.

Medway Academy will be a brand new build site in Strood or Rainham which will welcome 180 pupils per year plus a sixth form, and will have a grammar stream for “more able pupils across the borough” when it opens in September 2019.

Bearsted Academy will be a secondary special school for the region based at junction 7 of the M20, near Maidstone.

It will work with the LAT’s outstanding-rated Milestone Academy to offer opportunities for some of the region’s most vulnerable pupils when it opens in September 2018 in brand new, state-of-the-art facilities.

Maidstone Primary Academy, meanwhile, will welcome 60 pupils each year to a site at junction 7 of the M20 with Bearsted Academy, and will also open in September 2018.

Education secretary Justine Greening said: “We need schools that can bring out the best in every single child no matter where they’re growing up, how much their parents earn, or however different their talents are.

“That’s why these new schools are so important - they give us the school places we need for the future, and they also give parents more choices to find a great school place in their area that’s right for their child.”

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