Clegg warns on free schools

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A NEW generation of free schools opening this week will not be able to make a profit, according to Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg.

Nationally 24 free schools have opened, thanks to emergency legislation passed last year by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

No free schools have opened in South Yorkshire yet, though a city special school has applied and two more in Rotherham are in development.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the new schools would not become ‘the preserve of the privileged few’.

Many Lib Dem supporters remain sceptical about the programme and have voiced opposition, saying they could be socially divisive.

But Mr Clegg said he was confident the schools would give ‘fairer chances’ to children from the most deprived backgrounds.

Mr Clegg admitted the schools were seen as controversial by many and came with risks, but also said they would improve standards and integration.

“To anyone worried that by expanding the mix of providers in our education system we are inching towards inserting the profit motive into our school system, again, let me reassure you,” he said.

“Yes to greater diversity, yes to more choice for parents. But no to running schools for profit, not in our state-funded education sector.”

Mr Clegg added: “Free schools must not be the preserve of the privileged few - creaming off the best pupils while leaving the rest to fend for themselves, causing problems and draining resources from other nearby schools.”