Commenting on the launch of LocatED, a new public property company set up to purchase and develop sites to help create 500 new free schools, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:
“The Government has finally recognised that the expansion of the free schools programme has got out of hand and well over budget, but LocatED would not have been needed if the Government had allowed local authorities to have the control over the planning for the additional school places that they need.
“We hope that LocatED will behave more responsibly with tax payers’ money when purchasing land and buildings for the new schools that we need. And that they will be accountable if costs are excessive, such as the £7.3m spent on an unsuitable site which was only worth £3m, or the extortionate rents paid by the Bolton Wanderers Free School.
“ATL believes that before any proposed free school is opened there should be feasibility study and a meaningful consultation exercise undertaken to include local communities and the local authority. The success of any free school cannot be measured against Ofsted inspections which take place before the school is fully open.”