The Conservatives are set to double down on free schools, opening a further 500 if they win the General Election.
In a speech today, David Cameron said that the government plans to create 270,000 new school places, on top of the final wave of 49 free schools to be opened during the final throws of this parliament. The initiative is part of a series of reforms set up by polarising ex-education secretary Michael Gove.
Free schools are typically set up by sponsors, charities, groups of pupils’ parents or teachers and operate outside of local authority jurisdiction. They have been heavily criticised in some quarters; the shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, has said that they are “funnelling money into areas of surplus school places". Labour would throw out the scheme.
In contrast, in today’s speech in London, Cameron will say that the Conservatives are the only party opening up the education system and creating more places for children.
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.
Ofsted has inspected 77 free schools, of which 18 were rated as outstanding, 23 require improvement or are inadequate and three have been closed or taken over.