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The academy trusts to run 30 new special free schools

Twenty-five academy trusts have been selected to run 30 new special free schools – but a process to find trusts for three schools will have to be re-run.

Wellspring Academy Trust will run three of the schools in Birmingham, North East Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire. 

Ethos Academy Trust, Ascendency Partnership Trust and MacIntyre Academies Trust will run two each (see full list below).

However two areas are not on the Department for Education’s successful applicants list – including two schools in Cheshire East and one on the Isle of Wight. 

The DfE said they were not able to appoint a trust to run these schools so they will “shortly be re-running a process to find a high quality trust for these schools”.

It said they are committed to “only appointing the strongest trusts to run new free schools, whose applications show that their proposed school will provide the best outcomes for the children attending”.

Last year, the DfE confirmed the 33 areas that were successful in their bid for a new special free school. Since then, organisations have been applying to run them, before they enter the pre-opening phase. But special free schools can take years to open and some have been beset with delays.

All but one of the council areas are part of the government’s high deficit intervention programmes. 

New schools amid capacity crisis

Schools Week investigations have exposed the special school capacity crisis. Last week, the first government data on the issue found that two thirds were full or over capacity. 

Mark Wilson, Wellspring chief executive, said:  “We’re delighted to receive the news and look forward to engaging with the stakeholders in due course.

“We have a very successful track-record of opening new schools and have a very capable team in place to work constructively with the DfE and local partners.” 

Susan Douglas, chief executive of the Eden Academy Trust which will run a special school in Hillingdon, said: “We know the life-changing impact that a successful special school can have on pupils and families and we are proud to work with the DfE and local authorities to expand places where we can so that more pupils are in the right setting.” 

The DfE is also announcing today the 733 schools and sixth form colleges to benefit from the £450 million condition improvement fund (CIF). 

It will also confirm council allocations for the £850 million to create new places for youngsters with SEND. This is part of the £2.6 billion investment between 2022 and 2025. 

DfE said that there will be 60,000 new specialist places. Two-thirds of these will be from capital investment, while the free schools programme will create over 21,000 places.

An extra 15 schools, backed by £105 million, were also announced in the spring budget.

Education secretary Gillian Keegan said: “All too often I hear from parents with children who have special educational needs having to fight to get the right support.

“That’s why this government has a plan to deliver 60,000 more places that meet the needs of these pupils and their families.

“We are also continuing to invest in the school estate, so all children are taught in the best classrooms for generations to come.”

The successful applications

Local authority Trust
Barnsley and Sheffield Ethos Academy Trust
Bath and North East Somerset Three Ways School
Birmingham Open Thinking Partnership
Birmingham Wellspring Academy Trust
Blackpool The Sea View Trust
Bracknell Forest Propeller Academy Trust
Bristol Enable Trust
Central Bedfordshire Oak Bank School
Darlington The Education Village Academy Trust
Devon Transforming Futures Trust Multi Academy Trust
East Riding of Yorkshire The Education Alliance
Enfield SEARCH Education Trust
Hampshire Solent Academy Trust
Hillingdon Eden Academy
Leeds Ethos Academy Trust
Leicestershire MacIntyre Academies Trust
Middlesbrough Horizons Specialist Academy Trust
North East Lincolnshire Wellspring Academy Trust
North Yorkshire Wellspring Academy Trust
Salford The Cooperative Academies Trust
Somerset North Star Academy Trust
South Tyneside Prosper Learning Trust
Suffolk Unity Schools Partnership
Surrey London South East Academies Trust
West Sussex The Beckmead Trust
Wiltshire Brunel Academies Trust
Windsor and Maidenhead Chiltern Way Academy Trust
Wokingham Ascendency Partnership Trust
Wokingham Ascendency Partnership Trust
Worcestershire MacIntyre Academies Trust

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