Nicky Morgan lauds free schools as “modern engines of social justice” as next application window opens

Nicky Morgan lauds free schools as "modern engines of social justice" as next application window opens

Education secretary Nicky Morgan has hailed free schools for “breaking the cycle of disadvantage” as the latest window for new proposals opens today.

Ms Morgan has reaffirmed the  Conservative’s pre-election pledge to open 500 more free schools – equating to 270,000 more school places.

And she is calling on high performing schools, sponsors, charities, community groups and parents to put forward proposals and join her mission to “provide every child with a truly world class education”.

“Free schools are at the heart of the Government’s commitment to deliver real social justice by ensuring all pupils have access to a world class education,” Ms Morgan said.

“This is at the core of our commitment to govern as one nation – creating a country where everyone, regardless of their background, can achieve their high aspirations.”

She said half of the 254 free schools have opened in deprived areas “offering a fresh chance for families to break the cycle of disadvantage by providing a quality of schooling never been seen in many communities.”

She singled out Dixons Trinity Academy in Bradford and ARK Conway Primary Academy as examples – both Ofsted rated outstanding – adding: “These are the modern engines of social justice.

“Parents want the best for their kids, and where they are unhappy with the schools on offer locally the free school programme empowers them to demand more and establish new, high performing, community-led new schools.”

Schools Week reported yesterday only three Ofsted inspections into free schools were published in the run up to the election – compared to ten last year.

But more are now starting to appear and five have been published since the election – including two yesterday.

Three schools were graded as requires improvement – Parkfield School in Bournemouth, Reach School in Birmingham and St Mary Magdalene Academy: the Courtyard, in Islington.

Two have been rated as good – Heyford Park Free School in Oxfordshire and Cathedral Primary School in Bristol.

According to research by Free Schools Info 82 of the 254 open free schools have had Ofsted inspections.

Nearly half (49 per cent) have been rated good, 24 per cent rated requires improvement and 23 per cent outstanding.

Three free schools (4 per cent) have been graded as inadequate.

Labour leadership contender Liz Kendall also announced yesterday she supports free schools – in contrast to previous Labour policy.