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Monday 11 March 2019: Free schools, off-rolling and maintained nurseries

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: early years, Exclusions, Free schools

Today’s Education in the Media blog focuses on the announcement of 39 new free schools, as well as off-rolling and maintained nurseries.

Free Schools

Today, Monday 11 March, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds has announced plans to open 39 new free schools for children with special educational needs or facing additional challenges in mainstream education. This has been covered by Telegraph, the Guardian, and the Metro as well as on broadcast by BBC Breakfast.

Today’s announcement will see 3500 new school places created for children with additional needs, to support them through their education. The announcement follows on from the one we made in December when the Education Secretary announced a further £250m for local authorities’ high needs budget.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

Parents rightly want choice of where their child goes to school and to know that the education and support they receive will ignite that spark of potential that exists in all of us, so they can go on and succeed.‎

We want every school to be a school for children with special educational needs and disabilities. That’s why we are investing significant funding into Special Education Needs units attached to mainstream schools and in additional support so children with education, health and care plans can access mainstream education.

But we recognise some children require more specialist support. These new special free schools and alternative provision schools will make sure that more complex needs can be provided to help support every child to have a quality education.


Today, the Times published an article on off-rolling. The piece looked at data which shows that pupils are more likely to be excluded the year before their GCSEs.

A Government spokesperson said:

Permanently excluding a child from school should only ever be a last resort, and Pupil Referral Units have a legal duty to safeguard children, protecting them from exploitation and abuse including gang activity.

It is still vital that young people who are excluded from school are able to engage with high-quality teaching and education. That’s why, as part of our commitment to reforming alternative provision, we have launched a £4 million fund which is delivering projects to improve outcomes for children in alternative provision, including pupil referral units.

Since 2017, the UK government has given every local authority in England more money for every pupil in every school.

Maintained Nurseries

Today, the National Association of Head Teachers have put out a press notice on a planned march on Downing Street on Wednesday 13 March by heads and staff of Maintained Nursery Schools. The group are marching for assurances around this week’s budget. This was covered by the Guardian.

Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:

We know that Maintained Nursery Schools play a valuable role in supporting some of the most disadvantaged children across the country, and that there was some uncertainty about funding for the next academic year.

That is why we have provided an additional £24 million of funding to local authorities for their maintained nursery schools - to give reassurance in time for the allocation of places for September 2019.

Decisions on what happens past the end of the 2019/20 academic year will be taken at the next Spending Review.

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