Justine Greening has today announced 77 free school proposals have been approved in the latest round of applications – the largest number of approvals in one wave this Parliament.

The 77 free schools (for a full list click here) will provide more than 45,000 new places. The announcement comes just two months after David Cameron announced details of 31 new free schools – one of his last acts as Prime Minister.

More than a quarter of the 77 schools will be opened by the REAch2 Academy Trust, which has been given permission to open a further 21 primary schools.

Schools Week revealed the trust’s expansion plans in May, when at the time two-thirds of its schools have still to be inspected by Ofsted.

The Harris Federation has also been given permission to open three new secondaries and a primary school. One of the schools, in Sutton, will have a science specialism and have a link to the London Cancer Hub, a world-leading science campus.

Other notable schools include the Saracens High School, in Barnet, which is a partnership between rugby club Saracens and Ofsted outstanding Ashmole Academy.

The Cumbria Academy for Autism – a new special school proposed by local parents of autistic children – has been approved, which the government says will have a “strong focus on the development of life and vocational skills alongside academic learning and will help ensure more local children with autism get the specialist help and support they deserve”.

London has the largest number of approved new schools (24), which will deliver more than 19,000 new places in the capital.

A total of 15 new free schools have been approved to open in the east of England, delivering more than 9,000 places.

Eight will open in the south west, and seven in both the south east and north west.

Greening also confirmed today that 56 new free schools have opened their doors this month.

She said: “Our country needs more good school places for children. This next wave of free schools means more options for parents so they can choose a place that really works for their child’s talents and needs.

“?Alongside the reforms announced last week this will build on the progress that has seen 1.4 million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010. This will help deliver the true meritocracy the Prime Minister has pledged to create.”

Just over three-quarters of mainstream free schools are now opened in areas where there was a need for new free school places, with almost half in the 30 per cent most deprived communities.

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  1. I am surprised the Government is allowing such rapid expansion of Reach2. Such swift growth has caused problems for academy chains in the past (eg AET, CfBT, TKAT). Reach2 has 51 schools but 34 have not yet been inspected since becoming academies. One of the academies with an Outstanding verdict listed on DfE School Performance Tables was actually inspected in 2008. The judgement was for its predecessor school.

  2. Justine Greening says ‘almost half’ of free schools have been set up ‘in the 30 per cent most deprived communities.’ She obviously doesn’t read Schools Week or she would know that primary free schools tended to have few disadvantaged pupils than the proportion in their areas. http://schoolsweek.co.uk/deprivation-study-finds-grammars-faith-and-primary-free-schools-biased-against-poor-pupils/
    Just because a school is in a ‘deprived’ community, doesn’t mean it’s stuffed full of disadvantaged children.

  3. The press release accompanying the announcement says: ‘80% of free schools are now rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
    But 86% of England’s schools were ranked Good or better according to figures released in June. It appears, then, that free schools as a group aren’t doing as well as the national figure.
    However, that’s unfair because the sample’s too small to come to a conclusion about the quality of free schools. Few free schools were inspected in 2015/16 because the Government extended the period when new schools needed to be inspected from two to three years. And we don’t know whether the 80% figure includes free schools which have been closed.
    Nevertheless, if the Government wants to boast about inspection judgements for free schools it needs to compare these with the figures for all schools. To do otherwise is misleading.