Free school given go-ahead despite 1,600 spare places

The government decided to approve an application for a 1,710-place free school despite there being more than 1,600 surplus places within 2 miles of the proposed site, official documents show.

However, the head of the free school has said the numbers used by the Department for Education were “historic” and the extra capacity was needed for an “expanding town”.

The free school impact assessment, published for the first time today, acknowledged that approving plans for Great Western Academy in Swindon would have a “high” impact on three of the closest secondaries, and a “moderate” impact on a fourth.

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