NSN Director responds to the Budget

Sophie Harrison-Byrne, Director of New Schools Network, said:

"I welcome the Chancellor's announcement today to invest in new special school places. 

"Special and alternative provision free schools provide some of the highest quality and most innovative opportunities for families across the country. Demand has been outstripping supply for a number of years, and there are countless children whose needs are going unmet. The funding announced today is a welcome step in the right direction.

"We know one of the most effective ways of meeting these needs is through the creation of free schools. In just a decade, over 600 new free schools have opened in communities across the country; they are now the highest performing state schools at GCSE and A level, are more likely to be rated Outstanding by Ofsted, and are more popular with parents than neighbouring schools.

"As we found in our research with Onward earlier this year, more than 200,000 primary pupils live in areas where every school is deemed failing; secondary pupils in the North are five times more likely to attend an underperforming school than their peers in London; and that more pupils in areas across the North fail than succeed to achieve two or more post-16 qualifications.

"The Government is quick to champion the success of free schools; Ministers highlighted plans for Star Academies and Eton to partner on new 16-19 schools as an example of levelling up, while this month calling free schools “one of the biggest education successes since 2010”. We look forward to further announcements in the coming days about commitments to mainstream free schools.

"The Department must look closely at its capital allocation, so the countless groups eager to open free schools in areas where they are most needed are able to, levelling-up education across the country."

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