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Government approves applications for 131 new free schools

13/04/2017 Joanna

The Department for Education has signed off on applications for 131 new free schools, marking the largest wave of free school approvals during the current Parliament.

More than 69,000 places are to be created as a result of this move, with schools to be led by high-performing institutions, including a grammar-school-led multi-academy trust  and the largest state boarding school in the country.

The approved schools include Stone Lodge Academy - a new secondary school for 11 to 19-year-olds in Dartford, as well as the non-selective Barton Court Academy Trust Free School in Canterbury, which will offer a total of 1,050 school places.

Other new additions include the City Enterprise Academy in Stoke-on-Trent, the Sapientia Primary Prep School in Norfolk, and the Rushey Mead Free School, which will provide 1,200 new secondary places in Leicester. Additionally, Newham in east London will see the opening of the School 21 Campus and School 21 Sugar House, two schools that will provide 2,400 places between them.

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."

Overall, 124 free schools have opened since 2015, with a further 376 set to open by 2020 to meet a government target of launching an additional 500 new free schools by September of that year. It was also noted that since 2014, more than 80 per cent of mainstream free schools have been approved in areas where a need for more school places had been identified.

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