Schoolzone: New free schools budget 2017 - too little too late?

New free schools budget 2017 - too little too late?

 

09 Mar 2017


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Here’s what yesterday's budget said about new schools:

“The government … will deliver the manifesto commitment to open 500 new free schools by 2020. The government will extend the free schools programme with investment of £320 million in this Parliament to help fund up to 140 schools, including independent-led, faith, selective, university-led and specialist maths schools. Of these 140 schools, 30 will open by September 2020 and count towards the government’s existing commitment.”

 

Let’s look at that.

First, the average cost of opening a free school (based on gov figures 2011-13) is £4.4 million (including both capital and set-up costs), so £320 million only gets us 72 schools.

The budget suggests in fact that only £100 million will have been spent by 2020 (the end of this term of office), which is enough to open 23 schools. The remainder of this budget allocation is outside this government’s term of office.

72 have opened since May 2015 when the current government took office and currently 143 are approved to open: so 215 total to date, let’s say.

This suggests that the government is on track deliver 310 of its 500 promised by 2020.

 

Meanwhile the government’s own predicted state school pupil numbers are:

 

2018_projection

2019_projection

2020_projection

Primary

3,931,551

3,972,611

3,971,836

Secondary

3,354,013

3,446,889

3,524,959

 

The numbers of state schools we currently have are:

Primary

17892

Secondary

3679

 

The average size of schools are:

Primary

209.8

Secondary

877.5

 

Meaning that we need the following

2018_projection

2019_projection

2020_projection

Number of schools needed

18742

18938

18934

Number of schools needed

3822

3928

4017

 

So the actual numbers needed top open each year are as follows:

2018_projection

2019_projection

2020_projection

New primaries needed

408

196

-4

New secondaries needed

89

106

89

Total needed

497

302

85

 

So yes, we need 1,381 new schools by 2020, not 310 as we seem to be on track to deliver.

 

 

 

Data sources, DfE:

Pupil forecast data:

SFR25Projns_2016_UD

Free school costs:

20151003_Published_costs_proposed free schools

Free_Schools_Data_for_Publication

School numbers:

Edubase

 

 

 

 

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