The government says it has provided almost 600,000 new school places in five years – but in places that don’t need them, according to Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner [Image: Sunesis].

Your children are being educated in buildings that are slowly falling apart while the Tory government builds ‘free’ schools in places that don’t need them.

A report by the National Audit Office showed that spare places in 52 free schools which opened in 2015, in areas that already have enough places, could have a moderate-to-high impact on funding in 282 other schools.

The Tories are already spending £9.78 billion on their education vanity project. Repairs to ordinary schools – to a satisfactory standard – may cost around £6.7 billion.

For perspective: Repairs to the Houses of Parliament – a single building – are expected to cost £4 billion over a six-year period between 2022-28, rising to £7.1 billion if MPs and lords do not move out during the process.

Free school places cost more than those in local authority schools – 50% more for secondary places and 33% more at primary level, said the report, “mainly because free schools tend to involve the purchase of land”, with the government expecting to spend £2.5bn on land between 2016 and 2022.

But shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said the policy continued “to waste millions opening free schools in areas that do not need them”.

And Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said it was “taxpayers’ money that could be used to fund much-needed improvements in thousands of existing school buildings”.

This new evidence adds to the facts we already have, showing that ‘free’ schools are in fact exorbitantly expensive and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

The Tories like them because they are run by independent organisations while being funded from the public purse; they are a step away from public ownership of schools, which is anathema to profit-grubbers like the Conservatives.

So, Tories have billions to spend on their ‘free’ school vanity projects, and on the Houses of Parliament – while neglecting the school your child may use. Are they really the party of fairness?

Source: ‘More spent on free schools as older buildings deteriorate’ – BBC News

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