Free Schools

Department for Education written question – answered at on 23 January 2017.

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Photo of Steven Baker Steven Baker Conservative, Wycombe

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will review the free school application process to ensure that hon. Members, local councillors and other relevant stakeholders are kept informed of proposed developments in their area.

Photo of Edward Timpson Edward Timpson Minister of State (Education)

The free schools programme is a demand-led programme. We assess applications to establish free schools against published criteria. At the beginning of each application wave we write to local authorities to ask for their views about any free school applications received. We consult them again about the ones that have been invited to attend an interview and then again about the ones that are proceeding to the next stage of the process, the pre-opening stage. In addition Lord Nash writes to all the relevant Hon. Members at the end of the application wave to let them know which applications in their constituencies have been successful.

Under section 10 of the Academies Act 2010 the trust behind the proposal must consult the people they think appropriate on whether to enter into a funding agreement with the Secretary of State. The funding agreement needs to be signed before the school can open. This statutory consultation informs stakeholders and the local community about the project and gives them the opportunity to comment on it.

We are continually looking for ways to improve the application process.

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