Anyone who's followed the news over the last few days will have heard about the coalition government's plans to set up 'free schools'. The issue has divided many parents, teachers and the public, with strong feelings on both sides of the debate.

The idea of free schools is based on similar institutions in Sweden and the USA. Essentially groups such as parents, teachers, charities or businesses are given the freedom to set up their own tax-payer funded schools, which are not under the control of a local education authority. Applications to do so must be approved by the Department of Education, and it is anticipated that the first free schools will be opened in September 2011.

Further information about free schools is available from this BBC article, while this link provides more information using a simple Q&A format. A picture of how the new institutions could work in practice is provided here, while details on the application process for setting up a school are available directly from the Department of Education.

If you're interested in the debate surrounding the rights or wrongs of free schools, then you can read a supportive article from the Daily Telegraph, and a critical piece from the Guardian.


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