Government approves 131 free schools

131 FREE SCHOOLS have been given the green light by the Government in the biggest wave of approvals this parliament.

The schools will create 69,000 new places. They will be led by institutions including Endeavour Multi Academy Trust, which already runs two grammar schools, and the Sapienta Education Trust, which runs Wymondham College, the largest state boarding school in England.

There are already 124 free schools open in England. Another 376 are set to open by 2020. The Government has a manifesto commitment to open 500 free schools by the end of the decade.

Free schools are funded by the Government but are independent of council control. They do not have to follow the National Curriculum, can set their own pay and conditions for staff, and can change the length of school days and terms.

The Department for Education said they are one of the highest performing groups of non-selective state schools, with 29 per cent of those inspected by Ofsted rated as Outstanding.    

It added that since 2014, more than 80 per cent of mainstream free schools have been approved in areas where there is a need for more school places, while others have opened in response to parents' demands to create competition and drive up standards where existing provision is in adequate.

"We need schools that can bring out the best in every single child no matter where they're growing up, how much their parents earn or however different their talents are," said education secretary Justine Greening.

"That's why these new schools are so important - they give us the school places we need for the future and they also give parents more choices to find a great school place in their area that's right for their child."