PM unveils free schools expansion

Published: Monday 9th March 2015 by The News Editor

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A Tory government will open hundreds of new free schools across England by 2020 under a major expansion of the policy, David Cameron will declare today.

The plan to open at least 500 of the schools, which can be set up by community groups including parents, charities or teachers, will mean an extra 270,000 places at the institutions which were introduced as part of former education secretary Michael Gove’s reforms.

Mr Cameron’s plans for a major extension of the policy if he remains in Number 10 come as the Government announced that 49 more free schools have been given the green light in the final wave of approvals before the election.

In a speech in London, the Prime Minister will say: “If you vote Conservative, you will see the continuation of the free schools programme at the rate you’ve seen in the last three years.

“That means, over the next parliament, we hope to open at least 500 new free schools resulting in 270,000 new school places.

“Remember – we’re the only party that is committed to this. The only party that’s opening up the education system so we can get more good places for your children.

“And isn’t that what every parent wants – a great education for their child? You deserve the security of knowing your child is getting just that. And with the Conservatives you should expect nothing less.”

The announcement that 49 more schools have been given the go-ahead means more than 400 have already been approved under the coalition government.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “Free schools give pupils the chance to attend an excellent local school.

“They are providing more choice than ever before to parents and ensuring that children have access to a high-quality school place and the best possible education that prepares them for life in modern Britain.

“With the total number of approved free schools now rising to more than 400, the demand from parents, charities and education experts to set up the schools has proven the programme to be one of the most important modern drivers of social mobility.

“Today’s announcement sends a clear sign that children for generations to come will be able to benefit from a place in a free school.

“With already more than two-thirds being rated good or outstanding, today’s news will reassure parents that standards will continue to rise.”

Labour has criticised the free schools policy, claiming it can lead to money being channelled to areas where there is a surplus of school places instead of being targeted at areas where classes are overcrowded.

Mr Cameron’s plans for an expansion of free schools came as a report by the centre-right think tank Policy Exchange claimed they are raising standards for all pupils in areas where they open, even for children who do not attend them.

The report suggested that the competitive effect created by a free school leads to improved academic standards in nearby under-performing schools.

Published: Monday 9th March 2015 by The News Editor

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