A school headmaster was one of more than 200 teachers invited to a London reception to celebrate the success of free schools across the country.
Darren Lyon – head at the Sir Thomas Fremantle School in Winslow – attended the reception in the company of Prime Minister David Cameron to celebrate the extra 200,000 school places created thanks to 251 new free schools.
Free schools – which are state-funded schools that are independent of local authority control – have the freedom to decide the length of school day and term, their curriculum, teachers’ wages and how to spend their budgets.
The Sir Thomas Fremantle School in Park Road opened last year and already has more than 200 students on its roll.
Its curriculum makes time for a daily hour of enrichment activities, at least four hours of sport and a DT/IT course which uses 3D printers as part of a GCSE level course.
Mr Lyon said: “It has been a challenge building a new secondary school from scratch but the support from students, parents, staff and governors has been remarkable.
“We are very proud of what the school has to offer students and we are already seeing the benefits of our smaller classes and longer school day.”
The prime minister said: “The creation of 251 new free schools in just four and a half years, with three-quarters of them being rated good or outstanding, is something to be incredibly proud of.
“Free schools bring innovation, create choice and competition, and raise standards and I whole-heartedly believe that they are driving an extraordinary and beneficial change in Britain.
“We want to go on investing and helping with the free school success, to create the best education system in Western Europe that enables young people to get on and make the most of their lives”.