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Clegg maintains free schools not for profit

Free schools will not be allowed to be run for profit, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will say in a speech today, after he vetoed the proposal.

But Conservative Education Secretary Michael Gove has declined to rule out bringing in profit-making schools in the future, telling BBC1’s Andrew Marr programme: “I'm a pragmatist, not an ideologue. We don't need to have profit-making organisations involved at the moment.”

Free schools were a key pre-election Conservative initiative, with those set up so far having been founded by charities, faith groups, groups of teachers and parents. Out of 24 already approved, half are set to open this week.

Critics believe that free schools will take resources and pupils away from state schools in a time of cutbacks, but in a speech today in London, Clegg will state his confidence that the scheme will give fairer chances to children from deprived backgrounds.

He will say: “To anyone worried that, by expanding the mix of providers in our education system, we are inching towards inserting the profit motive into our school system, again, let me reassure you.

“Yes to greater diversity; yes to more choice for parents. But no to running schools for profit, not in our state-funded education sector. They must not be the preserve of the privileged few - creaming off the best pupils while leaving the rest to fend for themselves, causing problems for and draining resources from other nearby schools.

“So let me give you my reassurance - I would never tolerate that. Schools prepared to open up their facilities to the whole community will also be further up the queue for government funds,” he will say.

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