According to a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee published today, the Department for Education is spending “well over the odds” on free schools and wasting money it should be spending on refurbishing and maintaining existing schools.
Let’s break that claim down into two parts.
First, is it true that free schools are an expensive way of creating new places? The PAC says we need an additional 420,000 places in England’s schools between now and 2020, so it is important that the Department for Education does not waste its capital budget. Luckily, it’s not. According to a National Audit Office report published in February, the construction costs of a newly built free school are 29% lower per square metre than the schools rebuilt under Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme. (To read more, click here.)