Nicky Morgan will announce more than 50 new free schools by the end of this month, Coffee House has learned.
I understand that a protracted battle has been taking place in the Education department between the Lib Dems and the Tories, which has not been helped by a desire from some civil servants to slow down the announcement of the new schools. But I hear that Morgan has managed to secure funding from the Treasury for 54 new free schools, although fewer may appear on the approved list.
Free schools are announced in three waves each year, and these 54 new free school approvals, if replicated in the second two waves, will mean the highest rate of new schools under the Tories. I also understand that the schools are not only being allocated to areas with a shortage of places, even though the Lib Dems had been pushing for this, but are continuing to be approved on the basis of demand from parents.
This suggests that Morgan’s critics are wrong to argue that her appointment last summer signalled the end of those school reforms, or that she is giving in to the education establishment, which has long opposed the agenda of her predecessor, Michael Gove. Our leading article this week praises Morgan and David Cameron for continuing the education reforms, but urges the Prime Minister to make them a key part of his election campaign, pointing out that more and more pupils can now have independent education within the state system.