Mayor of London announces new group aimed at boosting the number of sites available for free schools across the capital


Boris Johnson has said he will set up a new group aimed at boosting the number of sites available for free schools across London.

In his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, the mayor of London said he would put in place a group called New Schools for London to help to boost the number of free schools by opening up sites held by the Greater London Authority.

He said: “I am a passionate supporter of [education secretary] Michael Gove’s free schools revolution - parents, teachers, charities are coming together to create wonderful new places of learning.

“And I don’t want a handful of these schools. I want dozens of them, right across the capital. So I can announce today that I am setting up New Schools for London to help find the sites that they need. And we are opening up the GLA’s property portfolio to find the site.”

The move comes after 24 schools that were approved to open last month were unable to due to difficulties in securing premises.

Rachel Wolf, director of the New Schools Network, the charity charged by the government with delivering its free schools programme, has called for the government to rethink the process for finding premises for free schools, particularly in London where difficulties finding sites are most acute.

Wolf welcomed Johnson’s announcement today: “London is particularly problematic, and a number of schools were unable to open or faced delays because of the challenges in finding sites for new schools,” she said.

“We are delighted that the Mayor will be helping Free Schools across the capital find sites and look forward to working with the GLA to ease this bottleneck and secure more great schools for London’s parents.”