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Fifty-five free schools to open
Twice as many new free schools will start the new term this week compared with last year, as 55 open their doors for the first time, the Government has announced.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said he hoped the new schools would be "equally successful" as the 24 which launched last September.
But he has faced criticism after some free schools slated to open this week failed over the summer, including the One in a Million free school in Bradford, which abandoned its plans for 2012 last week.
Mr Gove said: "Every child should have the choice to go to an excellent local school. These new schools have been set up by idealistic people who are determined to give parents the kind of choice that only the rich can currently afford. The first 24 free schools are enormously popular and I expect this second wave to be equally successful."
Liam Nolan, executive head teacher of Perry Beeches II, Birmingham, said: "This is a fabulous opportunity for us to expand our brand of success into a new community and to work with a new group of young people in the heart of Birmingham. This is one of the beauties of free schools, that the very best schools can extend their outstanding practice."
Marina Gutierrez, chair of the Bilingual Primary School Trust, Brighton, said: "I am delighted that this project has now become a reality and that Brighton & Hove's children will have bilingualism as an educational choice."
But speaking on the Sky News Murnaghan programme, shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: "Some of the free schools opening are fully subscribed, they will be brilliant, successful schools and I wish them well. A number of local authorities have recognised the only way to get money from this Government for a new school is to have a free school.
"You've innovative teachers and headteachers opening free schools - I applaud all of that. But the problem we have got is the Government puts all of its eggs in the basket of free schools, so when they fail it is a waste of public money. The programme is not being tailored to those parts of the country that most need additional school places."
The list of 55 free schools opening this week include primary and secondary schools, establishments which cater for pupils through their schooling, and two schools which cater for pupils to the age of 19.
Twelve have been set up by teachers, 19 by parent or community groups, nine by charities and 13 by existing education providers. Two existing independent schools will join the state sector as free schools.