Prime Minister David Cameron today announced 49 new free schools for communities across the country, strengthening the Govern12ment’s mission to give all parents the choice and security of a good local school.

The move brings the total number of free school places created since 2010 to almost a quarter of a million, making this policy the most successful new schools programme in national history with schools being created more quickly than ever before.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan hailed the policy for giving thousands of children the choice of attending an excellent local school “and the best possible education that prepares them for life in modern Britain”. In total more than 400 free schools have been approved since 2010, creating more than 230,000 school places across the country.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Delivering the best schools and skills for young people is a crucial part of our long term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain. Free schools set up by teachers, parents and community groups are not only outperforming other schools, but they are raising the performance of those around them, meaning more opportunities for children to learn the skills they need to get on in life.

“These new schools are an important part of our plan to improve education by raising standards and restoring discipline so our children can compete with the world’s best and enjoy a better future.”

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

“Free schools give pupils the chance to attend an excellent local school. They are providing more choice than ever before to parents and ensuring that children have access to a high quality school place and the best possible education that prepares them for life in modern Britain.

“With the total number of approved free schools now rising to more than 400, the demand from parents, charities and education experts to set up the schools has proven the programme to be one of the most important modern drivers of social mobility.

“Today’s announcement sends a clear sign that children for generations to come will be able to benefit from a place in a free school. With already more than two-thirds being rated good or outstanding, today’s news will reassure parents that standards will continue to rise.”

The schools announced today will meet the growing demand of parents for more good local schools with high standards and strong discipline. One of these new schools includes the Northampton International Academy, which will benefit thousands of parents in the East Midlands. The new 2,220 place school will serve pupils from aged three to 19 will offer an extended school day. The curriculum will focus on the study of modern languages at both primary and secondary level.

Elsewhere, parents in Maidstone, Kent, are set to benefit from a new School of Science & Technology – a new STEM-focussed school for up to 800 students that will forge links with the Singapore School of Science and Technology to give pupils an international knowledge of science and commerce.

But also announced today are a number of schools using the innovative powers of the free schools programme to transform the lives of many of society’s most disadvantaged and disaffected children. 17 per cent of all free schools are dedicated to special needs or alternative provision.

One new school being designed will stop young offenders returning to prison. The Campus free school is the result of more than three years of collaboration between education and youth justice experts and will help up to 30 Haringey teenagers caught up in the cycle of crime to gain valuable qualifications, while giving them the support needed to avoid reoffending.

Also announced today is a school that will harness the discipline of boxing to transform the lives of disaffected young people who have fallen out of the mainstream education system.

The Boxing Academy will open as a free school in order to extend its offering to up to 56 pupils a year – two more classes than before. While pupils will not have to box, the sport’s ethos will be harnessed to help them channel their aggression and learn discipline and teamwork. Pupils will be mentored in small groups by boxers, while gaining valuable GCSEs including English and maths.

Free schools are brand new schools set up by parents, teachers and charities in response to demand from the local community. Today’s announcement – the final wave of free schools to be approved before the General Election – brings the total number of open and approved free schools to more than 400, creating around 230,000 new places often in the most deprived parts of the country.

Through free schools and academies the Government is taking power away from politicians and bureaucrats and handing it to heads and teachers. 72 per cent of free school heads say they are having a positive impact on schools in their local area – driving up standards and ensuring more parents have a great school in their neighbourhood.

More than 40,000 pupils are already attending free schools just three-and-a-half years after the first one opened its gates. More than two-thirds are rated good or outstanding and 72 per cent are located in areas with a shortage of places. 90 per cent of today’s free schools will be located in areas with a shortage of places.

With demand for childcare at an all-time high, Ministers have also announced the Government will finance free schools to offer nursery provision in the next wave of applications.

For the first time, successful applicants will be able to use capital funding to create nursery places for two-, three- and four-year-olds, where the Government’s offer of 15 hours per week of free childcare can be provided.