Government sets out requirements for "free schools"

Parents, teachers, and other groups will have to show evidence of demand, and locate a suitable site

The government in England had released more details on the conditions for parents, teachers, and other groups to set up their own "free schools".

These schools, one of Education Secretary Michael Gove's key policies, will be independent but funded by central government.

Groups will have to show evidence of demand in the local area for a new school, for example by getting parents to sign a petition, locate a suitable site, and set out the school's aims, curriculum, and teaching methods.

Gove claims that these schools will help to close the gap between rich and poor, citing similar schemes in some US cities. He says they will be closed if they fail.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) says that this is a free market policy that will cause "chaos" at a local level.

Gove's other key policy is to the academies programme, which will allow good schools to opt out of local authority control.

The first of the new "free schools" are expected to open as soon as September 2011, while some schools will become academies in the autumn.