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New free school proposals – is it all good news?

19 July 2012

The recent Department for Education (DfE) announcement of over 100 new free school proposals being approved is sure to spark further debate over the importance of this government policy and whether it is the best way to drive up standards in a time of financial restraint.

The approved proposals focus on two main areas – new schools for areas of disadvantage and new schools to support a growing primary population.

Whilst the former is linked to the primary aim of the policy – to bridge the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”, the secondary focus may be less well received and a consequence of the “academies and free schools are the answer” policy of the DfE.

Local authorities retain strategic duties to provide sufficient places for their area and it may be better use of public funds for that funding allocated to free schools to be provided to those authorities affected to ensure provision is focused in the areas that need it most.

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