Next wave of English free schools approved

The BBC reports that another 131 free schools have been approved to open in England, creating about 69,000 places.

All new state schools are now opened under the free school scheme – which can be run by academy trusts, parents or community organisations.

The Education Secretary Justine Greening said they would help to “give parents more choices”.

The biggest number of these new schools will be in the south east, with more than 15,000 places in 27 schools, followed by almost 10,000 extra places in London in 18 schools, and 9,000 places in 12 schools in the west Midlands. And there will also be 4,000 places created in schools for special needs pupils.

Earlier this month the government allocated £980m for 600,000 extra school places up to 2021, including those in the free school programme, drawing on funding announced from the 2015 spending review.

Toby Young, director of the New Schools Network which promotes the setting up of free schools, said: “With 800 either opened or approved to open, providing 400,000 places when full, free schools are now a permanent part of England’s educational landscape.”

But Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, criticised this development, saying: “The free schools programme has been proven to be an enormously expensive and inefficient way to create school places.”

Education Secretary Justine Greening said the new schools would “give us the school places we need for the future, and they also give parents more choices to find a great school place in their area that’s right for their child”.

Read more Next wave of English free schools approved

How else could extra school places be created? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. Whilst forcing cuts on existing schools, the Government is pushing through its expensive and wasteful ‘free’ schools programme, heavily criticised by the National Audit Office for unnecessary ‘free’ schools. It has wasted over £83 million on University Technical Colleges which either haven’t opened or have now closed. In 2013 the ‘free’ school budget was overspent by £1 billion; in 2014 £1 million was given to ‘free’ schools which never opened; also in 2014 £50 million was spent on ‘free’ schools deemed inadequate or requiring improvement (most haven’t yet been inspected); in 2015 £12 million had been given to delayed ‘free’ schools. Now, tell me how that makes sense?

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