Government launches company to create more free schools

New public property company set up to purchase and develop sites to help create 500 new free schools.

LocatED has been established to acquire land and buildings across the country to help the government build 500 new free schools by 2020 and create 600,000 new school places by 2021.

Free schools are providing more good school places in more parts of the country. Recent analysis of Ofsted inspections shows 29% of free school inspected have been rated ‘outstanding’ – which means as a proportion free schools are the highest-performing group of non-selective state schools.

More than 9 in 10 free schools have been approved in areas where a need for more school places has already been identified, and the remainder have been created by local communities deciding they wanted more choice. Free schools are ensuring more parents have access to a good local school place for their children.

LocatED will act on behalf of the government to secure the right sites, at the right price, to ensure hundreds more free schools can open.

Schools Systems Minister Lord Nash said:

"Part of the government’s plan for Britain is building a fairer society, with a good school place for every child. Free schools are playing a vital role in creating those school places. They are popular with parents, ensuring thousands more families have the choice of a good local school.

"We need to secure hundreds of new free schools in order to keep pace in creating 600,000 new school places by 2021. LocatED has the skills and expertise to find and secure land and buildings to ensure our free schools ambition becomes a reality.

"With 29% of free schools inspected rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted - LocatED will play a vital role in helping us create thousands more good and outstanding school places for future generations of children."

LocatED’s Chief Executive Lara Newman MBE said:

"We understand the scale of the challenge and the property landscape. LocatED has the expertise and will operate at pace to negotiate with multiple partners across the private and public sector. We work directly with landowners, agents and developers to secure sites for new free schools, whilst ensuring the best value for the taxpayer."

Chief Executive of the Education Funding Agency Peter Lauener said:

"LocatED will improve the experience for free school trusts, for many of whom finding a site is the main challenge to opening a school. The establishment of LocatED places this challenge in the hands of a specialist team of commercial property professionals."

LocatED is a government-owned property company and will operate with a £2 billion budget, making it one of largest purchasers of land in the UK. Working directly with landowners, agents and developers across Britain, LocatED has been established to help overcome some of the challenges of securing sites and land for new free schools.

LocatED will also secure sites to help deliver the additional 110 free schools announced in the budget (Wednesday 8 March).

LocatED has a multidisciplinary team with specialist skills and extensive property sector experience who will negotiate complex deals with multiple partners across the private and public sector to get the best possible value for money for the taxpayer.

Alongside the launch, the distinguished LocatED board with a range of private and public sector property acquisition and development experience has been announced.

Lara Newman MBE, Chief Executive of LocatED - with over 20 years of property experience, Lara has operated at the heart of the free schools policy since its introduction. Previously a Board Director at Cleanslate Ltd, a development and property consulting company, Lara worked with many of the UK’s biggest landowners, agents and developers. Prior to that, Miss Newman was Managing Director at Navigant Consulting, where she specialised in property deals and complex capital investment projects for government education capital programmes.

Michael Strong, Board Chairman - 15 years as Chairman of CBRE, previously CEO of CBRE. Non-executive Director: NHS Property Services Ltd, The Osborne Group and Waterman Group.

Phil Ellis, Non-executive Board Member - Previously Client Portfolio Director at Aviva Investors, 33 years institutional property investment management, investor relations and business development experience through all business cycles.

Jayne Maclennan, Non-executive Board Member - Group Director of Property FirstGroup plc. Non-executive Board Member and Chair of Remuneration Committee for Glasgow Prestwick Airport. Non-executive Director Aberdeen Harbour Board.

Julian Rudd-Jones, Non-executive Board Member - Managing Director of Kajima Partnerships and Kajima Properties, the two principal UK operating businesses of Kajima Corporation, with extensive experience in commercial property development and the funding, delivery and management of social infrastructure.

Caroline Tolhurst, Non-executive Board Member - Executive career as a Chartered Surveyor, Compliance Officer and Chartered Secretary. Operated at board level for 20 years including 10 years as Company Secretary to Grosvenor. Current, Board and Audit Committee member and Chair of Governance & Remuneration Committee at A2Dominion Housing Group.