26 April 2017
Commenting on the report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) into free schools, Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“The NUT has been raising the same concerns about free schools as the PAC report for years. The Government has wreaked havoc on the education system in England through its pursuit of this policy against all the evidence.
“Research* by the NUT shows that the Government wasted £138.5 million of taxpayers’ money on 62 free schools, UTCs and studio schools which have either closed, partially closed or failed to open at all. This is completely unacceptable at a time when state schools are being starved of funds. It has also caused disruption and misery to the families and children who have been let down when these schools failed - and these failures when due to the school's inability to recruit gives the lie to the Government's claim that free schools are popular.
“Free schools do not address the school place crisis, often being built in areas of no need and often in unsuitable premises. This policy is not evidenced based and is nothing to do with the wellbeing of children or providing a sound education. It is a purely market driven policy - an ideological obsession of the Government.
“During the General Election campaign the NUT will be lobbying all parties to return power to local authorities to plan and provide enough school places in their area and for all schools to be properly funded.”
*NUT research: The High Cost of Government Policies https://www.teachers.org.uk/news-events/conference-2017/high-cost-government’s-policy-failures