https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2016/12/22/education-in-the-media-22-december-2016/

Education in the Media: 22 December 2016

Teacher and class

Today’s news review looks at reports about the number of free schools in temporary accommodation.

Free schools

Today, Thursday 22 December, the Guardian and the I newspaper both ran stories claiming that more than 100 free schools are currently in temporary accommodation.

While the figures are correct, the coverage does not fully reflect that schools are only allowed to open in temporary sites where they meet specific quality criteria. Additionally, in cities where there is high demand for property, it can take time to secure a permanent free school site. Therefore, on some occasions, to meet demand from parents for more choice, we will open free schools in temporary sites.

We have a stringent set of criteria that we use to assess whether a school should open in temporary accommodation based on examining the length of time it is likely to take to deliver the project’s permanent site, evaluating the viability of any proposed temporary solution and testing whether there is clear evidence of demand for places in the area.  All temporary accommodation is safe and suitable for educational purposes.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Free schools are creating thousands of quality school places for children, many in disadvantaged areas. In some cases, particularly in cities where property prices are at a premium, it can take time to secure a permanent, high-quality site that meets the needs of the school and provides value for the taxpayer.

 

We are taking a number of steps to streamline the process for acquiring permanent sites, including the establishment of LocatED - a new public body with property expertise that will be responsible for securing free school sites quickly and more efficiently.

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