Government approves 77 new free schools

19 Sep 16

The government has today approved applications to open 77 new free schools as part of a drive to create 500 by the end of the parliament.

Education secretary Justine Greening said the schools approved on Friday would give parents more choice and increase the number of children being educated in schools rated at least ‘good’ by Ofsted.

The plans include special schools for children with autism and a secondary school launched by rugby team Saracens, in addition to the 56 previously approved that have opened for the new school term.

Greening confirmed that the government remained committed to the pledge set out by former prime minister David Cameron to open 500 free schools – which can be set up by parents, teachers, charities or academy sponsors – by 2020.

This in addition to plans set out by prime minister Theresa May to allow new grammar schools.

“Our country needs more good school places for children. This next wave of free schools means more options for parents so they can choose a place that really works for their child’s talents and needs,” Greening stated.

“Alongside the reforms announced last week, this will build on the progress that has seen 1.4 million more children in ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools than in 2010. This will help deliver the true meritocracy the prime minister has pledged to create.”

The DfE highlighted the latest figures from Ofsted, which show that 80% of free schools are now rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

Other schools approved include plans by the REAch2 Academy Trust – the largest primary-only academy trust in the country – to open a further 22 primary schools, providing over 10,000 additional primary places by 2020.

The Harris Federation of schools will open three new secondaries and a primary school, including a secondary school in Sutton that will specialise in science, alongside the London Cancer Hub life science campus.

The 56 new schools that opened for the new term include 42 new free schools, 11 new university technical colleges and three studio schools, which will provide around 35,000 places.

Greening also announced the creation of a new body, called LocatED, which will help speed up the process of acquiring sites for new schools and get the best value for the taxpayer. It is expected to launch in autumn 2016.

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