Free Schools

Education written question – answered on 4th March 2014.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Education

(1) what estimate his Department has made of the cost to it of the 18 free schools cancelled or withdrawn during the pre-opening process;

(2) what proportion of the 18 cancelled free school applications were in (a) Yorkshire and (b) London;

(3) what representations he has received from each of the providers of the 18 free schools which had a scheme cancelled or withdrawn; and if he will make a statement;

(4) how many of the 18 cancelled free school applications had a site purchased and assigned to the school.

Photo of Edward Timpson Edward Timpson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

As of 27 February 2014, 19 free school applications had been cancelled or withdrawn during the pre-opening process. Details on expenditure on cancelled or withdrawn free schools projects are published online and regularly updated:

The 19 schools include one school that went on to open as a university technical college and another which opened as a sponsored academy instead. Of the remaining 17 schools, five were to be based in Yorkshire and Humber and four in London.

Whenever a free school project is to be cancelled or withdrawn, the Department for Education discusses this with the relevant free school trust. The Department also seeks to reclaim any project development grants that remain unspent.

There are no instances where a site has been purchased or assigned specifically to a single free school project that was then cancelled or withdrawn. However, there is one instance where a site was purchased which was to be shared by two free school projects. One of those has now been cancelled or withdrawn. The Education Funding Agency is working with the remaining free school trust and the local authority in order to determine the usage of this site.

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