Cameron gives green light to 18 new free school projects


David Cameron has reaffirmed his commitment to the Government's controversial free school programme as 18 new projects were given the green light.

The Prime Minister said ministers will push ahead with their pre-election pledge for 500 new free schools over the next five years - with two waves of new schools every year up to 2020.

The Conservatives argue free schools - set up by groups of parents, charities and other organisations - drive up standards and create more choice but critics say they lead to scarce resources being concentrated on a small number of institutions at the expense of the rest of the system.

Mr Cameron said: "The aim of this policy is crystal clear - to increase the number of good and outstanding school places so that more parents have the security of knowing their child is getting a great education.

"Today's announcement shows that we will not waver in pressing ahead with our plans to open 500 more of these innovative and exciting schools over the next five years."

The new schools include the Solihull Alternative Provision Academy for children who have fallen out of mainstream schooling, the CAPA College of performing arts in Leeds, and Gipsy Hill Secondary School in south London, which has a learning programme based around the ancient Greek "trivium" of logic, grammar and rhetoric.

Also on the list are the Piper Hill Vocational Learning Free School in Wythenshawe, Cheshire, for children with severe learning difficulties, and the XP East secondary school in Doncaster, which is based on a number of US charter schools.