Twice as many new free schools will start the new term this week compared with last year, as 55 open their doors for the first time, the Government has announced.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said he hoped the new schools would be "equally successful" as the 24 which launched last September.
But he has faced criticism after some free schools slated to open this week failed over the summer, including the One in a Million free school in Bradford, which abandoned its plans for 2012 last week.
Mr Gove said:
Every child should have the choice to go to an excellent local school. These new schools have been set up by idealistic people who are determined to give parents the kind of choice that only the rich can currently afford.The first 24 free schools are enormously popular and I expect this second wave to be equally successful.
Speaking yesterday on the Sky News Murnaghan programme, shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said:
Some of the free schools opening are fully subscribed, they will be brilliant, successful schools and I wish them well. A number of local authorities have recognised the only way to get money from this Government for a new school is to have a free school.
You've innovative teachers and headteachers opening free schools - I applaud all of that.
But the problem we have got is the Government puts all of its eggs in the basket of free schools, so when they fail it is a waste of public money.
The programme is not being tailored to those parts of the country that most need additional school places.
The free schools opening this week will include primary and secondary schools, establishments which cater for students through their schooling and two schools which cater for pupils to the age of 19.
Who have set the free schools up?
- 19 by parent or community groups.
- 13 by existing education providers.
- 12 have been set up by teachers.
- 9 by charities.
- 2 existing schools will join the state sector as free schools.
The Department of Education said 25 free schools are located in the most deprived 25 per cent of communities in the country, while the other 33 are in area where there is a need for more school places.