Free schools are set up in response to demand from parents for a new school in their area. In assessing the merits of individual free school applications, the Department for Education takes into account, amongst other things, the basic need for places, the level of demand from local parents and the quality of existing schools in the area.
Seventy per cent of open mainstream free schools are in areas of basic need. When all free schools in the pipeline are open, the Department expects 150,000 extra places will have been created by the programme, with many more to come.
Over the current spending review and in addition to the free schools programme, the Department is spending £5 billion on addressing the shortage of places through basic need funding—more than double the amount spent by the previous Government over an equivalent four year period.