Commenting on the latest round of applications for the creation of new free schools, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“Once again, this Government is throwing taxpayers’ money at its pet project free schools instead of taking a long hard look at where investment is most needed after a decade in which schools across England have been starved of cash.
“The Government’s academy and free schools programme is in crisis. Almost 70 ‘orphan schools’ do not have a sponsor and yet the Government recklessly wants to expand the programme.
“The most sensible and financially sound way to get new school places in the areas and phases of education that most need them is to allow local authorities to establish new maintained schools and to give them the legal powers to instruct academies and free schools to expand where they have the capacity to do so. Instead the Government’s reckless approach is to invest millions of pounds in new schools regardless of local need.
“The Government continues to make wild claims to justify its free schools programme. Once the 23 free schools that have had to close due to serious failings are factored in, free schools are less likely to be rated good or outstanding by Ofsted than other state-funded schools. Furthermore, free schools are far more likely to be judged requires improvement or inadequate than other state schools. (1)”
(1) Warwick Mansell, ‘Revealed: string of free schools failing Ofsted inspections’, Education Uncovered, 05 Sep 2019