Holding answer received on 28 April 2016
Since the free schools programme began, 81 free school projects have had their opening date deferred. In each case there was a need to balance the risk of opening on the planned date against all the elements that must be in place to ensure that a free school is successful when it opens. Our guidance makes clear that allowing a free school project to enter the “pre-opening” phase does not guarantee that the school will open on the date originally planned by the proposer group, or open at all.
Free schools offer excellent value for money. The National Audit Office found in 2013 that free schools were built 45% more cheaply than other school building programmes. The free schools that are already open will provide over 150,000 new places.