There is no evidence whatsoever for that. We know that 100 free schools have opened and shut in the past few years. We had one free school in Bermondsey that cost £1 million over two years and attracted 60 pupils. The local authority begged for it not to be opened, but it cost £60,000 per pupil while it lasted. We could have sent those pupils to Eton for half the price, although let me say to my hon. Friends that I am not advocating sending anybody there at the moment. We have 100 schools, unbrokered, containing 700,000 children. The Government cannot get anywhere near enough sponsors for the academies. They have only the Church of England in the rural areas and the Co-op, the Churches and the faith schools. The Education Policy Institute has stated that
“large structural reforms, through the expansion of the academies programme and the introduction of free schools, have so far resulted in…no impact on overall attainment.”
That is a damning measure, after eight years of this Government.
An economical attitude to evidence is apparent from the Government’s claim that 1.9 million children are in schools that are rated good or outstanding. Many of those schools have not been Ofsteded for more than 10 years, and the claim does not take into account the fact that we now have more pupils in the system. This is a discredited statistic. The UK Statistics Authority and the independent Education Policy Institute have raised serious concerns about it. The claim does not account for increases in the school population, or for the number of pupils who are in schools that have not been inspected since before 2010. In other words, it does not give the full picture. Today, the Minister has a chance to correct the record. Are his colleagues, the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister, right to say that their policies have led to 1.9 million more children being educated in schools rated good or outstanding, or is the UK Statistics Authority right to say that they need to put that figure into context? I would be happy to give way to the Minister on this point.