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  1. National

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.


  1. National

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.

  1. National

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.


Free school closes because of poor performance

The first free school in the country has been closed down for good because of poor performance - less than three years after opening. The pioneering Discovery New School at Crawley in Sussex was set up to allow parents to choose a Montessori style education.

Free schools are a flagship government education policy that allows schools to operate outside of local authority contol using public money. But this school's troubled path has raised many questions.

The founders of the school say Ofsted - not them - should be blamed. Our Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford has this exclusive report.

Discovery New School in Sussex WILL close in April

The Discovery New School in Sussex will become the country's first free school to close despite efforts to keep it open.

The school opened in September 2011 but was put in special measures when Ofsted inspectors rated it inadequate.

School governors were hoping for a reprieve when they met with government officials, but were told late last night that had failed.

It will close in April this year.

The Discovery New School in Sussex will close in April Credit: ITV Meridian

School governors have 'fair meeting' with Lord Nash

Yesterday Chris Cook, Chair of Governors at Discovery New School, met with Schools Minister Lord Nash, supported by Henry Smith MP and Phillip Bujak, who is the Chief Executive of The Montessori St Nicholas Charity.

At the meeting, Mr Cook presented the case and options for extending support to Discovery New School to Lord Nash.

Mr Cook said:

“We had a fair hearing. We were not given a response at the meeting and must wait to hear what Lord Nash has concluded from our conversations.

I’d like to thank Henry Smith MP for his support and Lord Nash for his time. It is appreciated.”

– Chris Cook, Chair of Governors at Discovery New School
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