UK Charity calls for 'orphan' schools to be adopted by parents and community groups
The parent takeover project. Source: Anna Earl/Unsplash

Referring to schools that feel unwanted and those that have been left to struggle by themselves, ‘orphan’ schools are academic institutions that are in need of help.

Without role models and adequate management, it’s not only the school’s bodies that fall apart, it’s also their students’ futures.

Facing this issue head-on, the small UK charity New Schools Network (NSN) is working hard to transform the standard of education in England by delivering expertise, guidance and ongoing support.

Nationally known for its Free School initiative, the charity helps groups of parents, teachers, charities, existing schools and other organisations respond to a need for a new school in their community.

By enabling them to set up a non-profit, independent, state-funded school which is free to attend, NSN believe those who run the school have more flexibility in the way they employ their staff, how they decide to spend their budget and how they refigure their curriculum.

In their fresh release of the Free schools: The next 10 years report, the charity revealed an orphan school crisis in the UK.

“There are 92 schools that have been rated as inadequate and are awaiting a suitable academy sponsor to take them on. This means work needed to turn around the school isn’t happening, with an estimated 35,000 pupils left languishing in schools waiting for new management. Around a third of these have become “untouchable”, with no sponsor willing to take them on for over a year,” NSN notes.

To solve this crisis, NSN is calling on the Department for Education to allow these untouchable orphan schools to be adopted by parents and community groups.

Commenting on the catastrophe, Luke Tryl, Director of New Schools Network, believes that, “Something different is needed, and our report provides an answer, both to turnaround failing schools and re-empower communities with a stake in their children’s educations.”

By removing the barriers that restrict free schools from flourishing and integrating a new wave of community-led academy trusts, NSN is certain these 92 schools and communities across the nation will change for the better.

“Free schools have allowed my children access to innovative curricula and new ways of doing things. This has helped them to find their place in the world and to flourish in it,” one parent of a free school student states.

Despite backlash and accusations, the NSN free schools programme keeps pledging for 100 free schools a year to be opened and to progress the expansion of the free school policy to all areas of the country.

Wanting what’s best for disadvantaged students across the nation, NSN runs a rigorous application form for community groups and parents to prove they have what it takes to run a free school and provide a range of free services to support free school applicants.

Hoping to overcome the orphan school dilemma in the UK, free schools may be the perfect plan to lift those 92 schools out of trouble, as well as the ideal structure to rejuvenate outdated teaching styles.

Click here to see where existing free schools in the UK are currently located.

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