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Education in the media: 15 March

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Today’s news review looks at misleading claims about free school funding.

Free Schools

Today, 15 March, the Independent published a story that says that the £320m announced in the Budget to create 70,000 places at up to 110 free schools will not be enough.

The claims are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how the funding is set out. The piece claims that based on the average cost of setting up a free school the money allocated will not be enough.

However, this is because the money set out only pertains to what will be spent during this Parliament – as is normally the case with budget announcements.

As the Budget red book makes clear, £320m has been allocated within this parliament to help fund 110 free schools and create an additional 70,000 free school places. The vast majority of the planned schools will open in the next Parliament, which is when we will provide the further funding needed to open them.

As is always the case, Budget commitments extend to what will be funded within the parliament in question further spending commitments will be set out in due course.

There are 431 open free schools, 124 of which have been opened since the election. There are currently 243 more in the pipeline.  We will continue to add schools to the pipeline over the course of this parliament and are confident that we will meet our target of 500 schools by 2020.  We aim to open at least 376 more schools by Sept 2020, including those already in the pipeline.

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