What did the NAO report on free schools (2013) recommend?

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The DfE needs to:

1         Strengthen its analysis of applications to ensure they link with wider objectives.

2         Increase transparency of how it uses contextual and practical factors in deciding approvals.

3         Review the reasons why there’s been no demand to open free schools in some areas with significant forecast need.

4         Learn from earlier projects – some approaches such as opening in temporary accommodation or paying over valuation for properties may not offer value for money.

5         Strengthen its framework for intervening in open free schools.

6         Apply lessons from open free schools to approved schools in pre-opening.

7         Assess the effects of open free schools on the quality and viability of other schools (this should be done during the application process to avoid situations where a proposed free school threatens the viability of an existing school or deliberately sets out to attract high- performing children thereby skewing the intake of neighbouring schools).

Note: author's comments are in brackets.

A summary of the report’s findings is here.