Data reported at May 2015 showed that local authorities (LAs) already had plans in place to deliver more than 80,000 new places in 2016/17, and we know many more will have been planned and delivered since then, including through central programmes.
Free schools can play an important part in helping LAs meet place pressures, and every free school has been opened in response to either the need to provide extra school places, the need to provide parents with greater choice or the need to provide more high quality school places. 85% of mainstream free schools approved since January 2014 are in areas where there was a basic need for additional school places. An additional group of schools were approved on the basis of more up-to-date LA data on future need for places and where section 106 agreements suggest need related to new housing developments. There are currently 117 mainstream free schools in the pipeline.
Many local authorities are recognising the opportunity that the free schools programme provides and are encouraging new and existing high quality education providers to apply to set up a new school in their area. We encourage all local authorities to do likewise.