Star Academies, p PublicFirst

Star Academies will run two of the new North West free schools announced by the government on Tuesday. Credit: via PublicFirst

Govt approves four North West free schools

Eton College is heading to Oldham, with the acclaimed educator teaming up with Star Academies to open a sixth form in the town as a result of the government’s announcement.

The Department for Education unveiled a wave of 15 new free schools on Tuesday. Of those 15, four will be in the North West.

“We want to make more good school places available to families, and these 15 new free schools will bring brand new opportunities to young people from Bradford to Bristol,” said education secretary Gillian Keegan.

She continued: “These new schools build on this government’s work to drive up school standards since 2010, with 88% of schools now rated good or outstanding – up from 68% – and high-performing academies and free schools in all parts of the country.”

In addition to Eton Star Oldham, the other three regional schools are Dixons Wythenshawe Sixth Form, Dixons Victory Academy secondary school in Manchester, and Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy secondary school in Liverpool.

The schools are expected to open in three to four years.

Eton Star Oldham

Eton Star Oldham will have 480 school spaces, with Eton providing extracurricular and financial support. It will be a new-build school and Eton College and Star Academies have said they will work with the council and the Department for Education to decide on a precise site.

“We believe Eton Star Oldham has the potential to be transformative both for the young people who attend and for the wider communities it will serve,” said Simon Henderson, headmaster at Eton.

“Now the hard work really starts as we turn our vision into reality.”

Star Academies’ chief executive, Sir Hamid Patel, described the government’s approval of Eton Star Oldham as “an exciting milestone”.

“We are confident that Eton Star Oldham will produce extraordinary, transformative outcomes, not only for its students but for the wider community too,” Patel said.

“With a growing demand for sixth form places Oldham and the north of Greater Manchester, we aim to enable more young people to benefit from a high-quality academic education and to broaden the opportunities available to them both during and after their sixth form studies.”

Cllr Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council, also welcomed the news.

“This new sixth form will provide a fantastic opportunity for Oldham’s young people to access a truly world-class education; with access to some of Eton and Star’s best teachers, its clubs, and its speaker events, as well as the chance to take part in a summer residential at Eton itself,” Shah said.

“This will give children who would never have had these opportunities the chance to shine and not just to fulfil their potential, but to experience things they would never have thought possible,” she continued.

“Eton and Star both have an outstanding reputation in providing the very best education, which is just what Oldham’s young people deserve. That’s why I’m delighted that today we have taken a huge step forward in making this fantastic idea a reality.”

Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy

The all-girls secondary school in Liverpool will be operated by Star Academies. Offering 800 places, it will educate young women aged 11 to 18. With government approval secured, Star Academies will now work with Liverpool City Council to identify the best site for this new-build school.

Reflecting on the approval, Star Academies’ Patel said: “Wherever they live and whatever their background, children deserve a high-quality education.

“We are delighted that our application to open a new secondary school has been approved. Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy, Liverpool will help to unlock the potential of thousands of young people in Merseyside.”

Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for employment, educational attainment, and skills, Cllr Lila Bennett, said: “The decision by the DfE that Star Academies has been successful in its application to open a new secondary school in Liverpool will support the city to provide sufficient school places in the coming years.”

Here is the full list of the 15 new schools announced today, as per a government press release:

  • Eton Star, a 16-19 school in Dudley
  • Eton Star, a 16-19 school in Teesside
  • Eton Star, a 16-19 school in Oldham
  • BRIT School North, a 16-19 school in Bradford
  • Great Stall East Academy, an all-through school from ages 4 to 16 in Swindon
  • Lotmead Primary School in Swindon
  • Dixons Victoria Academy, a secondary school in Manchester
  • Dixons Wythenshawe Sixth Form, a 16-19 school in Manchester
  • Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy, a secondary school in Liverpool
  • Bolsover Sixth Form, a 16-19 school in Derbyshire
  • Cabot Sixth Form, a 16-19 school in Bristol
  • New College Keighley, a 16-19 school in Bradford
  • Thorpe Park College, a 16-19 school in Leeds
  • UTC Southampton
  • Doncaster UTC – Health Sciences and Green Technologies

Your Comments

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Is this the same as the 40 new hospitals they proposed a decade ago? You can’t trust Tories.

By Anonymous

@August 22, 2023 at 11:31 am
By Anonymous


Apples and pears.

Each year, new free schools are set up. They are popular with parents, pupils and students – especially from South Asian heritage Brits – and score very well on performance.


The problem of course with setting up elite schools in places like Oldham is that any local students who go there are likely to do very well, and later in life, will almost certainly choose not to live or work in a place like Oldham.

Great idea, but migration of talent will condemn poor towns to being perpetually in need of ‘levelling-up’, and consolidate their deprived status.

By AltPoV


A very fair point. I agree with you. I’m not against the Eton Star Sixth Forms – if they help poor bright students do well, that’s a social good.

But levelling up is more than that. The Atom Valley project and establishing an advanced manufacturing industry would be very effective. Indeed, in Rotherham over the border, this strategy is paying off nicely. Aspirant housing in the Oldham district too. Redrow have built executive housing in parts of Merseyside where, even ten years ago wouldn’t have been imaginable.


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