ATL comment on Nicky Morgan’s pledge to build 500 new free schools in the next parliament
Commenting on the news that the Conservatives will push ahead with their plans to build a further 500 free schools over the coming five years
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:
“Free Schools are compounding, not solving the school places crisis. The coalition government has diverted at least £637 million from the education budget to set up free schools which educate fewer than 22,000 pupils.
“The Local Government Association says there could be 900,000 more pupils in state schools in England over the next decade and that £12bn will be needed to create sufficient school places for the growing primary population. At the same time only 19% of the free school secondary places are in areas which need additional school places, thus creating spare school capacity where none is needed. This is a waste of tax payers’ money. It also results in huge pressures on established primary schools who, to cope with rising pupil numbers, are turning their dining halls, music rooms and playing fields into classrooms – to the detriment of broad and balanced curriculum the pupils who attend these schools.
“Nor can any claim be properly made about the relative academic success, or otherwise, of free schools. In its most recent annual report Ofsted concluded that it is still too early to judge the overall performance of free schools and that ‘those inspected to date have a similar profile of inspection judgements to other schools and our inspections indicate that free schools succeed or fail for broadly the same reasons as all other types of school.”