"We welcome the Education Policy Institute’s latest assessment of the free schools programme which highlights the programme’s great successes, as well as its shortcomings.
"The above average performance of disadvantaged pupils in secondary free schools proves the policy's potential to transform education and raise standards for those in the greatest need.
"We agree entirely that new free schools should be targeted towards areas suffering from chronic educational underperformance and communities that have been left behind and have been calling for this for some time.
"Targeting these areas is a surefire way to help close the attainment gap and improve social mobility. However, free schools can only be part of the answer. As free schools become an increasingly important part of England’s educational landscape, it will be by working together with other schools and the wider education sector that we will be able to reach those neglected communities with historically low attainment to help transform lives.
"As demonstrated in EPI’s new report, free schools are thriving in many areas, but there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure the programme works for everyone."