Games Workshop founder to open two free schools

Ian Livingstone’s schools will aim to unite the arts and the sciences

The co-founder of Games Workshop, a key figure behind the Tomb Raider video games, is to open two free schools.

Ian Livingstone, who is the former president of Eidos, the company that created the hugely successful Lara Croft games, will open the Livingstone Academies in London and Bournemouth.

The institutions are part of the latest tranche of 22 new free schools announced by education secretary Nicky Morgan today.

Mr Livingstone’s schools will offer an education based on the “Steam” movement – which focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and maths – to about 3,000 students aged from 4 to 19.

The free schools will look to encourage “creative thinking and enterprise” in their students, who will sit “Dragon’s Den-style competitions” and mock start-up companies.

The decision to establish his own schools comes six years after Mr Livingstone penned a scathing report on the state of IT education. The document played an instrumental role in the ICT curriculum being scrapped and replaced with the new computing curriculum now being taught in schools.

Computing and creativity

On announcing the new schools, Mr Livingstone said the arts and sciences “should no longer be a question of either/or”.

“It is the combination of computer programming skills and creativity by which today’s world-changing companies are built,” he said. “I encourage other digital entrepreneurs to seize the opportunity offered by the free schools programme in helping to give children an authentic education for the jobs and opportunities of the digital world.”

Ms Morgan said the 22 new free schools would create an additional 18,000 places.

“With leading entrepreneur Ian Livingstone stepping up to open two schools, the free schools programme is proving to be a vital outlet for our society’s most creative and innovative people to spread their excellence to future generations,” Ms Morgan said.

However, Becky Francis, professor of education and social justice at King’s College London, said: “Given the government’s commitment to expanding the free school programme we need urgently to explore their quality and outcomes for pupils, and, given changes in the programme over time, whether indeed free schools are distinctive from other schools in either content or origin.

“Evaluations remain difficult at the stage as few have been open long enough to produce attainment data.”

Meanwhile, Ms Morgan also announced plans to create a new body of experienced property specialists to help find sites for future free schools, as exclusively announced by TES last year.

A scarcity of sites has been one of the biggest obstacles for the free school programme, particularly in London. Despite this, of the 22 new schools announced today, eight will be opened in the capital.

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