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Expanding school places for areas in need

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Free schools, Ofsted, school admissions, School places

A child looking at a bunch of pencils

Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at the Free Schools Programme and new data on Ofsted ratings and school preferences.

Free Schools Programme

Today, Friday 14 June the department announced that we will create an extra 19,000 school places in Wave 13 of the Free Schools Programme. This was covered in brief by the Times. The Education Secretary also spoke about the announcement on Sky News.

The Free Schools Programme looks to place schools in areas that need them most, and help to raise standards by giving parents more choice. To create the aforementioned 19,000 places, 22 new free schools have been approved to open – mostly in areas with low educational performance.

The success of the free schools movement has been hailed by the Prime Minister and the Education Secretary.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

Free Schools have revolutionised education in this country – through their innovation and a different way of thinking about teaching and learning they are a fantastic addition to our education system.

Many parts of the country have already taken advantage of the Free School Programme and have reaped the benefits. A great education is the key to unlocking every child’s potential so today we are announcing 22 new free schools so more young people – often in the most disadvantaged areas of the country – can benefit from a great free school opening in their area.

I look forward to seeing the schools as they are built, and how the young people studying there flourish and go on to succeed.

Ofsted Ratings

Yesterday, Thursday 13 June, Ofsted published a press release on new data which shows that 84% of outstanding schools which were re-inspected last academic year lost their top rating. This was covered by the Times, the Telegraph and the Mail.

It is important to note that most outstanding schools which are re-inspected are done so due to a concern being raised – given this trigger, it is expected that some of the schools will have decline, which sows the risk assessment approach is working.

Schools Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

These statistics show just how much better our school system is compared to nine years ago, with 85% of pupils attending schools rated good or outstanding compared to 66% in 2010.

Parents can be assured that the likelihood of having a good or outstanding school on their doorstep has been hugely increased, with almost 9 in 10 schools rated good or outstanding compared to just 7 in 10 schools in 2010.

Better schools, together with our new world-class curriculum and qualifications, and reforms to technical education including improved apprenticeships, mean that parents and pupils can feel more confident than ever that education standards in this country are meeting their expectations.

School Preference

Also yesterday, we released new data on school preferences. This was covered by the Guardian, Independent and the Mail.

This data shows continued success for parents securing a top choice of school for their child, with 97.5% of parents getting one of their top three choices for their child’s primary school in 2019.

On top of this, 93% of parents got one of their top three choices of secondary school for their child.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

Wherever they live and whatever their background, children deserve the best in education. Since 2010 we have created more school places and seen school standards rise, meaning there is a greater opportunity for pupils across the country to go to a good or outstanding school.

This means that, despite rising pupil numbers and the highest number of applications at secondary level for twelve years, the vast majority of parents sending their children to school this September received one of their top three preferences of either primary or secondary school.

Our school system has improved beyond recognition in the last nine years, which means that even the small minority of parents who didn’t get one of their top choices this year can feel confident their child will still get a world-leading education.

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