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Morgan urges more free schools

Free schools are "modern engines of social justices", Nicky Morgan has said, as she called for groups to apply to set one up.

The Education Secretary confirmed a Conservative pre-election pledge to open 500 new free schools over the next five years, insisting they will help to give all pupils a good education.

These schools are semi-independent state schools, outside of local council control, set up by parents, teachers, charities and other bodies with freedom over areas such as the curriculum and staff pay.

The latest window for groups to put forward proposals to open a free school opens today, the Department for Education (DfE), said.

"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," Mrs 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."

The Cabinet minister said that half of the 254 free schools open are in very deprived areas of England and this is giving families a chance to "break the cycle of disadvantage by providing a quality of schooling never before seen in many communities".

Mrs Morgan cited Dixons Trinity Academy in Bradford and ARK Conway Primary Academy, in Acton, west London, as examples of those that are giving youngsters a good start in life.

"These are the modern engines of social justice," she said.

"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.

"So I'm calling on all high performing schools, sponsors, charities, community groups and parents to come forward with their proposals for new schools and join us in our shared mission of providing every child with a truly world class education."

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: "This announcement comes as no surprise as it was a clear manifesto commitment demonstrating the Conservatives' intention to devote millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on structural change rather than supporting schools more generally.

"There is no doubt that in some areas there is a need for additional school places.

"In those areas local authorities should be left to manage place provision and to determine the type of school provision that would best meet the needs of local communities."


From Belfast Telegraph