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This week, concerning figures were obtained from the House of Commons library by Neil O’Brien MP showing a decline in the number of rural primary schools. The figures, quoted in The Times, show almost 150 rural primaries have closed since 2000, with just 5,406 primaries with 200 or fewer pupils now open compared to 11,464 in 1980.
"Many parents who home school do so well, and should have nothing to fear from a quality check to ensure their children are receiving a decent standard of education. For the minority who do not or who are using home schooling as a pretext for sending children to illegal unregistered schools, local councils need to know what is going on and be able to take action quickly.
"79% of academies and free schools are already Good or Outstanding and highly trusted by parents. With over 50% of pupils now in academies the time is right to broaden public confidence in academy trusts. Academy trusts are the single legal entity responsible for the education of all pupils in their schools. The quality of scrutiny matters most.
Some of the country’s most exciting educationalists have opened new schools in recent years. Teachers, parents and community groups, charitable organisations and existing schools have all embraced the blank page and the opportunity to do things differently. Over the last ten years, free schools have pushed boundaries in every direction, raising expectations and expanding horizons.
Scholarship funding is available for these courses until at least March 2020. This means that any schools in category 5 and 6 areas – where children make the least progress and have poorest access to high-quality schools – are eligible for fully funded NPQ places at any level. It also means that all staff in a multi-academy trust which has at least one school in a category 5 or 6 area would be eligible for a fully funded place, across the trust.
"It’s fantastic to see almost 1.9 million more children in Good or Outstanding schools since 2010. The free school and academies reforms have transformed education and championed social justice across the country and the 444 open free schools have revitalised communities and delivered real opportunity for young people.
"It’s disappointing the Labour Against Private Schools campaign has mistakenly identified free schools alongside private and grammar schools. At NSN, we entirely agree on the importance of making sure all children have access to outstanding comprehensive schools. No primary or secondary free school selects on the basis of ability.