The government’s free schools programme has been condemned as “incoherent and too often poor value for money” by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee.
The committee’s recent report says that the Department for Education is spending “over the odds” on unsuitable sites and building free schools in areas where extra places are not always needed. On the other hand, 60% of state schools are more than forty years old and in need of essential repairs amounting to an estimated £7 billion.
The Department of Education spent £863 million on 175 free school sites between 2011 and 2016. 24 of the sites cost more than £10 million and four cost more than £30 million. It is plans to spend a further £2.5 billion on land for schools from 2016-22. Despite all the money spent, many of free schools have inadequate premises and lack on-site playgrounds or sports facilities.