What is a free school? Free schools are independent, state-funded schools. They have the same legal status as academies.
Are free schools able to make a profit? No. Free schools can only be set up and run on a not-for-profit basis by a charitable Trust. The school will be run by the Principal and their leadership team and they will be answerable to a Board of Governors.
Where will the school be situated? The school plans to open in the Stockton-on-Tees area to help meet the growing demand for primary school places. If approved to the pre-opening phase by the Department for Education, one of the first tasks of the Education Funding Agency will be to secure a suitable site for our school. By necessity any potential sites will remain undisclosed until secured.
Why are you proposing to open with only Reception classes? Our proposed intake reflects where demand for places has been identified. When starting a new school we believe that it is really important to nurture the first year groups and establish the culture of the new school.
Are free schools selective? No. All free schools have to follow the Admissions Code in the same way as all state-funded schools and our inclusive admissions policy will at all times be open, transparent and fair. We will be working closely with colleagues at the Department for Education and at the Local Authority throughout the admissions process. Children of all abilities, from all backgrounds, of all faiths and none, will be welcome to apply.
If the school opens, will that mean less money for the other schools in the area? No. Funding for free schools will be equivalent to the funding of maintained schools and academies in the same local authority area. The opening of a free school does not mean that the overall funding available in an area goes down. However, the total funding an individual school receives will depend on the number of pupils attending.
Will St Thomas’ Church of England Academy be inspected by Ofsted? Yes. All free schools are subject to inspection in the same way as other academy category schools. The school is also inspected by Ofsted prior to opening and will be subject to termly visits from the Department for Education during its first year.
Have you chosen a Principal for St Thomas’ Church of England Academy? No. We would expect to appoint a leadership team to start with the school no later than 9 months before the opening of the school.
How will the school be accountable? The school will be run by a Board of Governors who will be accountable to the charitable Trust which oversees the school. In addition the school will be accountable to the Secretary of State for Education through the terms of its Funding Agreement.
How can I show my support? As part of our application to the Department for Education, we need to demonstrate the support of the local community, particularly of parents and carers with children aged . To show your support for St Thomas’ Church of England Academy, please complete the short form.