Free schools and place planning

Free schools have created chaos in school place planning and supply, with many opening where there is no need for new school places. A National Audit Office (NAO) report into capital funding for schools published in February 2017 highlighted this waste. According to the NAO, the DfE estimates that half (57,500) of the 113,500 new places in mainstream free schools opening between 2015 and 2021 will create spare capacity. This spare capacity will destabilise and undermine existing schools and is also a wasteful diversion of funds that could otherwise be used to provide school places where they are really needed. 

The NUT has also published research which shows that £138.5 million has been spent on free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools which closed, partially closed or did not open. In these cases usually it is local authorities who have had to pick up the pieces by finding alternative places for the displaced children.

Read the NUT’s EduFact on the school places crisis.

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