Plans to enable free schools to make a profit have been put back on the table after Michael Gove admitted they "could" become a possibility in the future.
He made the controversial comments during his cameo at the Leveson inquiry but added the profit-making plans would only come into play if the Conservatives were voted in for a second term and he would "cross that bridge when we come to it".
The education secretary's continued support for free schools making a profit is in direct contrast to his previous comments on the Andrew Marr Show in September - as the New Statesman observed.
"Nick and I are completely in agreement on this [free schools remaining strictly not-for-profit]. It is not an issue."
NUT Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney said Gove had used Leveson as a "platform" to drop "a heavy hint" that free schools are likely to make a profit if his party wins a second term.
"The NUT has been clear all along that the free schools policy was driven by the expectation of profits for those proprietors setting such schools up," he said.
"As we know the majority of these schools are opening in areas where there is no need for additional schools place and at a time when existing state schools are being squeezed for funds."
Sharon Hodgson MP, Labour’s shadow minister for children and families added:
“It is not right that companies could be allowed to make a profit from running schools. Michael Gove needs to make clear where he stands on this issue.
“Of course, the private sector can play an important role – in providing shared services or by acting as an academy sponsor, but running schools for a profit is not the way to improve quality.”