The free schools programme began in 2010 and was given legal force by the Education Act 2011. That act introduced the “free school presumption” which essentially requires that all new schools are established as academies (free schools).
The previous government pledged to open at least 500 new free schools during its term of office. This policy is a continuation of that direction of travel.
Now that all new government-funded schools are required to be free schools, as long as new schools keep opening, this policy is guaranteed to be ‘in progress’. We have to wait until the end of this period of government to see if we can mark it as ‘done’. The pledge is to be “building” schools, so we need to check with the government precisely what they mean by that, because laying a couple of bricks (which could be said to be “building”) is easier than opening a fully functioning school!
Whatever the precise meaning, the numbers will vary from year to year, so we’ll be looking at an average number of free schools per year to help us reach a final verdict. Follow this policy for updates!
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- Education Act 2011 – Gov.uk
- Free schools: open schools and successful applications – Gov.uk
- The free school presumption – Gov.uk
- Types of school – Gov.uk