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Sun, 14 July 2024

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By BASF

ATL on new wave of free schools

ATL | Association of Teachers and Lecturers

2 min read Partner content

Commenting on the Governments announcement about the next wave of free schools, Mary Bousted, general secretary at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:

“Another school year starts, but the Government continues to spout the same tired old nonsense.  It is time it got its head out of the sand.  There is no evidence that free schools perform any better than other schools, the Education Select Committee, Public Accounts Committee and Ofsted have all told the Government this, and yet it still takes no notice.

“The Government needs to do far more to tackle the growing crisis in school places – the London Councils have just said London needs an extra 113,000 places in the next five years, which is likely to cost £1.5 billion, and the Local Government Association has warned there will be 900,000 more pupils over the next decade in England.  Yet only one of the new free schools the Government announced today will open next September, with 17 the year after, which does little to address the places crisis and raises questions about whether the promise of 500 new free schools will be met by 2020.

“While it is good the Government is funding new schools to provide for the growing number of children, it is not good news for children that its fixation with free schools trumps getting value for money and investing in the things that will most improve education (in the latest Ofsted inspections 75% of free schools were rated good or outstanding compared with 82% of local authority schools).

“When the public funding and the education budget is so tight it makes no sense for the Government to waste money funding free school places at inflated prices (an average of £7,761 per pupil at free schools in 20013/14 compared to £4,767 in local authority schools) and in areas where they are not needed (only 19% of secondary free schools are in areas where there are shortages of school places). 

“If the Government cared about both spending money wisely and improving education it would invest in high quality training for teachers, help schools share best practice, and allow local authorities to plan the building of schools so they are only built where the places are needed.”

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