England: Firms and charities line up to run free schools

Private firms are lining up with parent groups to run the Conservatives' flagship "free schools" in England.

Parents set up free schools but others may run them.

These are the new schools that Education Secretary Michael Gove wants parent or teacher groups to set up and run with public funds.

Some education firms are already working with groups on their applications to set up the new schools.

Others are seeking to get into the market by teaming up with education charities.

The charities themselves are also joining up with parents and teachers to try to establish new schools.

So far, around 60 groups have applied to set up free schools, which are a key policy for the Conservatives' "Big Society" idea.

The government argues they will give parents more choice and help raise standards.

But education commentators have questioned whether parents would have the time or the know-how to actually run them.

The world's largest provider of independent education abroad, Gems, says it is already working with groups on setting set up free schools and academies under the new legislation.

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