There is mounting criticism of the ‘chaotic’, ‘brutal’ free school policy and lack of government support as at least five free schools shut down this term.
When Lorna Middleton was interviewed for her job as headteacher at St Anthony’s free school in the Forest of Dean in March 2017, she felt full of optimism about the future. The little school, based in two Victorian houses linked by an extension, had been lined up to join a local academy chain and move to new school buildings.
By the time she started the job that September, however, that plan had been abandoned and instead a programme of refurbishment had begun – work that would cost taxpayers £840,000. Middleton has never been given a reason for the change of plan.
Then, last Friday, the school closed for the final time, shut down by the DfE.