Half of free schools fail pupils

Written By: James Douglas
Published: January 17, 2017 Last modified: January 17, 2017

The government’s flagship free schools pro­gramme is in chaos, with 110 of them seeing thousands of children going to school in old office blocks, warehouses, former care homes and
car parks.

Since the programme began official data reveals that up to half of free schools have been opened in temporary accommodation, with the “majority” spending years without proper school buildings due to failures to secure a site. At least £2 million has been wasted since 2011 on Free School projects that didn’t open, but figure is likely to be closer to £4.5 million.

One free school opened in 2011 has been in temporary accommodation for more than five years, meaning a group of children have spent their entire school years without a proper school building. One in six free schools experience delays in opening, leaving hundreds of children without a school place at the last minute.

Shadow schools minister Mike Kane said: “Ministers are in disarray. Their flagship policies are failing and children and parents are paying the price. [They] fixate on the name above the door rather than ensuring schools have the resources and teachers to deliver an excellent education for all. Their free school failure means children in unsuitable temporary classrooms dis­rupting their education and threatening standards.”