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Why Labour say Free Schools are 'wrong thing to do'

Labour say more primary school places are needed. Credit: PA

If the Tories don't get elected the 49 Free Schools announced today would still be allowed to go ahead.

But the 500 Free Schools pledged by David Cameron, opposed by Labour, would be stopped.

That doesn't mean that parents wouldn't be able to set up their own schools.

They would be governed slightly differently and be called parent-led academies.

Labour want to establish local directors of school standards and they would decide whether or not new schools were needed.

According to Labour, there is a shortage, particularly of primary school places, which the Free Schools programme, which sets up secondary schools, is not really addressing.

But they are not entirely opposed to many of the ideas underlying Free Schools.

What this about really, is a time of very scarce resources for education. Labour believe that Free Schools are sucking resources out of opportunities for primary schools to be set up in areas where they are needed, and that is why they are the wrong thing to do.

Third of Free schools found to be 'under-performing'

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt. Credit: PA

A third of Free Schools have been found to be under-performing, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has said.

His comments come as David Cameron announced Tory plans to open hundreds of Free Schools across England by 2020 following a report they raise standards among pupils.

The Tory plan is failing young people and their parents, with a third of all Free Schools found to be under-performing.

Instead of focusing on the desperate need for more primary school places across the country and on spreading innovation right across the school system, David Cameron's Government has spent at least £241 million on Free Schools in areas that already have enough school places.

The result is many more children forced into crowded classrooms - a 200% increase in the number of infants taught in classes of more than 30.

Parents waiting for the results of their children's primary school applications will be astonished to learn that David Cameron wants to continue funnelling money into areas with surplus school places, via the Free Schools programme, rather than addressing the crisis in primary school places and growing class sizes.

– Tristram Hunt


Cameron pledges 500 new Free Schools under Tories

A Tory government will open hundreds of new free schools across England by 2020 under a major expansion of the policy, David Cameron will declare today.

The plan to open at least 500 of the schools, which can be set up by community groups including parents, charities or teachers, will mean an extra 270,000 places at the institutions which were introduced as part of former education secretary Michael Gove's reforms.

Cameron pledges 500 new Free Schools under Tories. Credit: PA

If you vote Conservative, you will see the continuation of the free schools programme at the rate you've seen in the last three years.

That means, over the next parliament, we hope to open at least 500 new free schools resulting in 270,000 new school places.

– David Cameron's speech in London

Mr Cameron's plans for a major extension of the policy if he remains in Number 10 come as the Government announced that 49 more free schools have been given the green light in the final wave of approvals before the election.

NUT rejects conclusions of report on Free Schools

The opening of a Free School was associated with substantial improvements of the lowest performing primary schools nearby in every year apart from 2010, a report by the think tank Policy Exchange said.

And at secondary level, the opening of a Free School was associated with improvements for all secondary schools with below average results.

The NUT does not accept the conclusions of this report.

The findings claimed by the authors are not supported by the 'evidence' presented in the report itself and the authors themselves admit that no link can be made between the cause and effects that they nevertheless seek to claim for the Free School policy, stating: 'It should be obvious - but bears setting out explicitly - that such data cannot demonstrate conclusively that any changes seen are as a response to the new Free School'.

– Deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said it did not accept the conclusions of the report.

Free Schools are 'raising standards,' report claims

A report published today claims that Free Schools are raising standards for other pupils across the local community, especially in some of the poorest performing schools.

Free Schools are raising standards report claims. Credit: PA

Competition is driving up standards at both primary and secondary level, undermining one of the key criticisms of opponents of the new schools, says the report by the think tank Policy Exchange.

The research looked at results in the three geographically closest 'similar' schools to the 171 relevant Free Schools opened so far.


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