In England there are around 21,200 schools, educating 7.9 million pupils aged between four and 19. Local authorities are legally responsible for ensuring that there are enough places for all children to attend good schools. The Department for Education (the Department) allocates capital funding and oversees the provision of school places. In 2015–16 it provided £4.5 billion, around half to create places in new or existing schools and half to maintain and improve school buildings. The Department also uses capital funding to support its wider reform agenda, by opening new schools as part of the expanding Free Schools Programme, which aims to increase choice, encourage innovation and promote competition, and thereby raise educational standards. The Department expects to open 883 free schools by 2020—this total includes the 500 free schools that the Government promised in 2015. The Government has committed to provide funding for a further 110 free schools beyond 2020. There is no automatic link between a new school being granted permission to open and the need for a new school in an area.
The Department sets the policy and statutory framework for spending capital funding and is accountable for securing value for money from this funding. The Education Funding Agency is responsible for implementing the Department’s capital policy, in some cases directly and in other cases through local authorities, academy trusts or individual schools.
24 April 2017