12/04/2017 00:01 BST | Updated 12/04/2017 16:05 BST

Government Approves 131 New Free Schools

More than 130 new free schools have been approved by the Government, the largest number during this Parliament.

The schools will collectively create around 69,000 places for pupils, ministers said.

Among the 131 schools to be given the go-ahead is Stone Lodge Academy, a secondary school in Dartford that has been put forward by the Endeavour Multi Academy Trust, which currently runs two grammar schools.

The new academy will not select pupils based on academic ability.

Others include the Flagship School in Hastings, a special school being led by parents which will offer 56 places for nine to 16-year-olds; and Sapientia Primary Prep School for five to 11-year-olds, proposed by the Sapientia Education Trust, which runs Wymondham College – the largest state boarding school in England.

It is the biggest wave of new free school approvals this Parliament, the Department for Education (DfE) said.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said: "We need schools that can bring out the best in every single child no matter where they're growing up, how much their parents earn, or however different their talents are.

"That's why these new schools are so important - they give us the school places we need for the future, and they also give parents more choices to find a great school place in their area that's right for their child."

Free schools are new state schools that are not under local council control and have freedom over areas such as staff pay and the curriculum.

In total, 124 have opened since 2015, with 373 more, including those announced today, due to open.

The Government has pledged to open 500 new free schools by September 2020.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: "While new school places are welcome and necessary, the Government are failing to deliver the number of places that will be needed by 2020.

"The Free Schools programme has been proven to be an enormously expensive and inefficient way to create school places.

"Today's announcement alone almost certainly comes with a huge price tag, without necessarily even providing new school places in the areas that need them most. And this is at a time when existing schools are facing a severe funding crisis."