Commenting on the announcement of 102 new free school applications approved for 2014 onwards by the Department for Education, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“It is extraordinary that at a time when the shortage of primary school places amounts to nothing short of a national crisis that the Government is persisting with the folly of its free school policy. Less than a third of the approved free schools are primary schools; and the overwhelming majority – 45 per cent of the new schools – will be located in London, which by common agreement already boasts the best schools in the country.
“NUT analysis shows that the DfE has already spent over £200 million of taxpayers’ money on free schools, of which almost £19 million has been spent on schools which are not yet open. Furthermore the Union’s research has revealed that 20 per cent of the 145 mainstream free schools approved in Waves 2 and 3 of the programme are adding to significant excess capacity locally. (1)
“Education Secretary, Michael Gove, is clearly letting down parents by squandering resources on schools that nobody wants in places where they are not needed. At the same time, in many areas parents are facing rising class sizes and schools are seeing a return to portacabins in their playgrounds to cope with the unmet demand for primary places. It is time for the Government to change tack and allow local authorities to open new schools in areas where there is a genuine need for new places with adequate funding from central Government.”
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