Cameron sets out free school expansion plans

2 Sep 15

David Cameron has provided details of how the government will meet its target to open 500 new free schools to 2020 after the first 18 were approved by ministers today.

The prime minister announced that applications to open free schools would now be assessed twice a year, with bids approved in tranches based on deadlines every March and September to 2020.

Cameron said the new schools – which can be set up by parents, teachers, charities or academy sponsors – would provide 270,000 places by 2020. The first 9,000 will be provided by those approved today.

“The aim of this policy is crystal clear – to increase the number of good and outstanding school places so that more parents have the security of knowing their child is getting a great education,” he said.

“Today’s announcement shows that we will not waver in pressing ahead with our plans to open 500 more of these innovative and exciting schools over the next five years, creating 270,000 places, delivering an excellent education and giving parents across the country real choice for their children.”

Among the schools approved today is an academy in Solihull set up to improve provision for children who have fallen out of mainstream schooling, while the successful XP School in Doncaster has expanded to a new secondary school, called XP East.

Gipsy Hill Secondary School will provide a classical education for up to 1,600 children in South London, while CAPA College will be a new performing arts school in Leeds.
Once opened, the schools will join the more than 300 free schools that are either already operating or will open as schools go back this week following the summer break.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan urged more groups to step forward with free school plans, and said the government would streamline the process for existing high-performing schools to expand through the programme.

“The free schools programme has sent out the message loud and clear, that parents should never have to settle for anything less than the best for their child,” she said.

“Right across the country, these innovative, community-led schools are helping to fulfil our ‘one nation’ commitment to educational excellence for every child.

“We know that free schools don’t just give parents greater choice, they also force existing schools to up their game. Today’s news sends a clear message that we are committed to extending this unprecedented level of choice to more parents than ever before.”

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