Education secretary Michael Gove said he is delighted at the level of interest in the government's free school policy.
It was announced earlier this week that 16 proposals from organisations interested in establishing free schools will progress to the business case and plan stage.
"I have been excited and flattered by the extent of interest and enthusiasm shown by these inspirational people… It is well in excess of my hopes," he commented.
Mr Gove claimed that the coalition government is keen to do away with unnecessary bureaucracy in order to ensure that schools can open as soon as possible.
Shadow education secretary Ed Balls said it is "laughable" for the minister to say that 16 free schools exceeds his expectations.
He suggested that Mr Gove has spent the last four months working on a policy that will affect very few people, while at the same time axing the Building Schools for the Future programme.