Last night's Newsnight programme
had an item on free schools in which the chair of the Local Government Association Children's Board (LGA) intimated that free schools are not opening in the areas that have real pressure on school places. Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Mr Simmonds said: "What we'd like to see is government approving free schools primarily where that will meet the basic need in that local area, and then secondarily where it begins to create surplus places to add competition to local schools." The Department for Education denied this was the case. The Department for Education (DfE) responded to the claim that many free schools are in areas with surplus places by saying "the LGA is wrong". A spokesman told Newsnight: "Free schools are already meeting the demand for school places in areas where they are needed most. The vast majority of open mainstream free schools are in areas with the greatest pressure on places. And more than two-thirds of those planning to open from 2013 and beyond will also be in areas of basic need".
What is the truth? Why are the statistics on the places that have the most need for extra school places not freely available? Once again, we see how this policy is shrouded in secrecy. We have to trust the DfE without them providing any firm evidence to back up their points. This is despite the fact that the opposition has raised major concerns
about this issue.