What is a Free School?

A Free School is an independent, state-funded school set up by members of the community who are determined to make a positive difference to the educational landscape.

In addition to passing a rigorous application and review process before they are established, Free Schools are regulated and inspected by Ofsted with their exam results published in league tables. So just like other schools, the performance of a Free School is closely monitored to assure parents that their children are being provided with a high standard of education.

For some time, concerned education professionals in the local community have been aware of a limited number of places for primary aged children with SEMH. The available places were in Beaumont Hill School Stephenson Centre where children from 6 years to 16 years were taught in the same building.

A lack of space on the site made it impossible to develop a separate primary environment but the national Free Schools programme is making this possible. And alongside the Education Village Academy Trust, our community can welcome a new school that has been founded and shaped by the very specific needs of this group of children.

Free Schools, like Academies, are funded by the Government but not limited by it. As a result Marchbank Free School, will not only have the freedom to direct resources where they are most needed, but also to design a curriculum which supports each student as an individual.

And whereas Academies are restricted to improving existing schools, Free Schools are brand new – they can be set up wherever best serves their community.

This clean slate means that Marchbank Free School has been able to start anew with fresh, exciting ideas, and this ‘can do’ environment will attract talented education professionals and teachers who want to help young people with SEMH achieve their potential.

These benefits, which are already available to existing Academy schools in the UK, as well as to schools participating in similar schemes in the USA and Sweden, have had a proven impact on education standards and, most importantly, improved the life prospects of the children they serve.

This is Marchbank Free School’s goal for primary aged children with SEMH in Darlington and the surrounding areas.