Education secretary keen to expand controversial school-building programme but reveals no new targets for academies

The government wants at least 50 free schools to open in London by 2015, education secretary Michael Gove has revealed in the latest sign of education department’s drive to increase the programme.

The statement comes a month after eight free schools opened in London, with 24 now open nationally.

Free schools are currently mainly procured through the academies framework for contractors, run by delivery body Partnerships for Schools. It is understood that this will continue to be the case for the next wave of free schools, with only a minority of work going to firms outside the deal through local arrangements.

In his address to the conference, Gove said that more than 1300 academies were now open in England, with 1000 opening in the last year. However, the education secretary did not reveal further targets for academies, and did not specify funds for either academies or free school capital works.