David Cameron today announced his government will build another 500 free schools if they win the next election – a policy Labour is staunchly opposed to.
The schools, which are free from local authority control, are variously said to boost school places or be a waste of money that risk segregating children from the realities of a diverse society. Some of the schools are faith-based, meaning students born to parents with a specific religious inclination may not mix with children whose parents have different beliefs.
Below are all 255 free schools which are currently in operation mapped, with the colours representing the type of school. By using the drop down, you can choose to show schools by their age bracket, or by their religious affiliation.
As the map shows, schools with religious characteristics are in the minority. Here is how they break down. All categories are untouched from the Department of Education definitions.
Some groups see this as a problem. Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, the chief of the Accord Coalition, a group that says it “brings together religious and non-religious organisations who want state funded schools to be made open and suitable to all,” is sceptical.
"New schools must not create religious and social silos, but prepare pupils for life in a diverse society," he said. "This can be ensured by guaranteeing for pupils access to an education about the broad range of beliefs in society and removing the ability of new faith schools to discriminate by faith. If we do not want society to be fragmented and inward looking then our schools must also not be."