The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that it will:
- open a Selective Schools Expansion Fund of £50 million for existing selective (grammar) schools to expand their premises to create new places. To access the money, which is available in 2018-19, schools will have to submit a Fair Access and Partnership Plan setting out actions to increase admissions of disadvantaged pupils;
- develop a scheme to help create new voluntary-aided schools to meet local demand. Schools that open under this route can open with up to 100% faith based admissions and providers will have to contribute 10% to capital costs. The DfE intend to work with local authorities to create schools in areas of need;
- facilitate universities’ and independent schools’ partnerships with state schools. A dedicated unit has been established in the DfE for this purpose and a Joint Understanding with the Independent Schools Council has been made;
- open the next wave of free school applications targeted at areas in which there is a demand for places and a need to raise standards.
These measures are a significantly watered down version of those put forward in the 2016 ‘Schools that work for everyone’ consultation. This proposed a change in legislation to allow new grammar schools to open and a change in the rules to allow new free schools to be selective on the basis of faith (currently there is a cap of 50% faith based admissions in the oversubscription criteria). The government’s response to the consultation has also been published.