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DfE gives approval for 35 new free schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has approved 35 new free school applications.

This new raft of approvals takes the total number of free schools currently in the pipeline to 112, which is expected to create around 200,000 additional school places.

Free schools are brand new state-funded schools that are independent of local council control. The government says this gives them the freedom to innovate and respond directly to the needs of parents and the local community.

The DfE added that free schools are “predominantly located in areas with shortages of places”.

However a review of free schools by the National Audit Office, which was released in December 2013, found that no applications had been made to open free schools in half of the areas that are forecasting a high or severe need for places for 2015-16.

Close to half the schools announced by the DfE are set to open in September 2015. Among them is Harington School in Rutland, which will be the first sixth-form college in the county; and Pinner High School in Harrow, a new school for up to 1,152 pupils set up by teachers from eight successful local schools.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan said: “Thanks to our plan for education more children in England have the opportunity to go to a good or outstanding school than ever before and free schools have been crucial to that change - with more than two-thirds of free schools meeting this high standard.

“We are giving thousands more parents a choice of high-quality local schools that offer the excellent standard of education that all pupils deserve.”

Of the 35 free school applications approved:

  • 27 are mainstream schools
  • 11 are primary schools
  • 9 are secondary schools
  • 5 are all-through schools
  • 2 are 16 to 19 schools
  • 4 are for alternative provision
  • 4 are special schools

(Image: c. Stefan Rousseau/PA)

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