Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Free School 'Vanity Project' Slammed

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Free School 'Vanity Project' Slammed

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Wearmouth Regional Affairs Reporter

THE Government's drive to create free schools has been attacked by a Tyneside MP as a study reveals they receive 60% more funding-per-pupil than state schools.

An analysis of the Department for Education data, published by the Guardian, shows the funding given to free schools worked out to an average of PS7,761 per-pupil compared to the PS4,767 average for those in local authority schools.

As youngsters return to school for the new term this week, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a new wave of free schools as he vowed to stand by his manifesto pledge to create 500 of over the life of the Parliament.

Dave Anderson, MP for Gateshead, said free schools, which are free from local authority control, are a "vanity project" designed to reduce the state.

New free school Wynyard CE Primary School in Wynyard Woods opened its doors last week, which sit among just a handful of free schools in the region.

Mr Anderson said: "Higher pupil funding shows that free schools are free loading. We should level the playing field so that there is equity between different schools in the state system.

"This is made more urgent by the Prime Minister's decision to further boost the number of free schools. Their freedom should not be at the expense of pupils who attend other schools.

"And despite this lopsided funding the success and failure rates are very much in line with schools in the state sector so it is clear that this programme is little more than an ideological vanity project driven by the desire to undermine the foundations on which local Government is built.

"The taxpayer is funding the demise of the democratic structures that ensure fairness and equal access for the next generation." Mr Cameron is launching a further 18 of the statefunded schools, set up by academy trusts, community groups, parents and teachers. …

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