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New company established to oversee creation of 500 free schools

30/03/2017 Joanna

The Department for Education has announced the establishment of a new public property company to oversee the execution of its plans to create new free schools across the country.

LocatED will operate as a government-owned property company and with a £2 billion budget, making it one of largest purchasers of land in the UK. It has been established to acquire land and buildings to support the creation of 500 free schools by 2020 and 600,000 new school places by 2021.

It will act on behalf of the government to secure the most appropriate sites at competitive prices, working directly with landowners, agents and developers across Britain, and staffed by a multidisciplinary team with specialist skills and extensive property sector experience.

LocatED will also be responsible for securing sites to help deliver the additional 110 free schools announced by the government in its Budget earlier this month.

The Department for Education is hopeful that the foundation of LocatED will allow it to maintain the momentum of its free schools programme, with recent analysis of Ofsted inspections showing that 29 per cent of free schools have been rated outstanding, meaning that these establishments are proportionately the highest-performing group of non-selective state schools in the country.

More than 90 per cent of free schools have been approved in areas where a need for more school places had been identified, with the remainder created by local communities to provide more choice.

Schools systems minister Lord Nash said: "We need to secure hundreds of new free schools in order to keep pace in creating 600,000 new school places by 2021. LocatED has the skills and expertise to find and secure land and buildings to ensure our free schools ambition becomes a reality."

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