Special schools make up almost a third of the latest list of 131 new free schools approved by the UK government.
Of the 111 schools approved 22 are special schools [see below]with English local authorities given the go-ahead to create another 20 through the.
The 20 local authority schools will create 1,700 school places for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). These will be in Bedford, Blackpool, Bradford, Bristol, Cheshire East, Croydon, Doncaster, Enfield, Essex, Hampshire, Havering, Herefordshire, Hounslow, Manchester, Portsmouth, Redbridge, Sheffield, South Gloucestershire, Suffolk and Sunderland. In all the 131 new schools will add an extra 69,000 school places.
The latest list brings to 376 the number of free schools set to open by 2020; with the 124 free schools already open the Government is set to reach its target of 500 by 2020.
Education Secretary Justine Greening said: ‘We need schools that can bring out the best in every single child no matter where they’re growing up, how much their parents earn, or however different their talents are. That’s why these new schools are so important — they give us the school places we need for the future, and they also give parents more choices to find a great school place in their area that’s right for their child.’
The government’s free schools programme has been criticised as wasteful by the UK’s largest teachers’ organisation, the National Union of Teachers (NUT). It says research it carried out found that the Government wasted £138.5 million of taxpayers’ money on 62 free schools, University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and studio schools which have either closed, partially closed or failed to open at all.
Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the NUT, said:
These figures make clear that the free school, UTC and studio school programmes were ill-thought policies which, in many cases, resulted in an appalling waste of significant sums of money — in the case of the closed UTCs, an average of £10m was spent on each school, rising to £15m in the case of Tottenham UTC.
That sums of this magnitude have been thrown away at a time when schools across the country are crying out for funding for staff, to provide a broad and balanced curriculum and to ensure essential resources and equipment are available, is criminal. Ministers should apologise to teachers and parents.
New special free schools
Beam Bridge School, Barking and Dagenham
Bearsted Academy, Kent
Chatten Free School, Essex
Cleeve School, Bexley
Damnonii Academy, Devon
Discovery Special Academy, Middlesbrough
Friars East Free School, Northamptonshire
Grangewood All-through Free School, Hillingdon
Learn@ Specialist Academy, Bristol
Linden Hill, Surrey
Maaz Free School, Richmond upon Thames
Moorcroft Primary Free School, Hillingdon
North Iffley Academy, Oxfordshire
Northstowe Special Academy, Cambridgeshire
Sandy Lane Academy, Central Bedfordshire
SEAX Trust Free School, Essex
Summerdown, East Sussex
Surrey Downs Court, Surrey
Thames View Bridge School, Barking and Dagenham
The Cavendish School, Cambridgeshire
The Flagship School, East Sussex
Treetops Special Free School, Thurrock