A secondary school backed by Premiership rugby club Saracens is among 77 free schools to be approved by the government today, in the biggest wave of approvals to be made by the government since it committed to opening 500 free schools by 2020.
It comes just days after education secretary Justine Greening set out plans to use the free schools programme to introduce new grammars into the system.
Among the most eye-catching of the schools is the Saracens High School, a new secondary school for Barnet in London, which will see the Premiership champions partner with Ashmole Academy, an outstanding local secondary.
Academy chains are also prominent in the list of free school providers, with Reach2 committing to open 21 new schools by 2020. The Harris Federation will open three new secondaries and a primary.
In a statement, Ms Greening said: “Our country needs more good school places for children. This next wave of free schools means more options for parents so they can choose a place that really works for their child’s talents and needs.
“Alongside the reforms announced last week, this will build on the progress that has seen 1.4 million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010. This will help deliver the true meritocracy the Prime Minister has pledged to create.”
The announcement comes as 56 free schools are due to open this month, joining the 429 free schools already open. A further 236 are in the process of being opened.
The government has a target of 500 new free schools by 2020. Sarah Pearson, interim director of New Schools Network, a charity that helps free school applicants, said the government’ aimed to provide 330,000 new places in these schools.