MPs have questioned “how a lot of a grip” the Division for Training has on offering faculty locations the place they’re wanted in England.
The system is “more and more incoherent and too usually poor worth for cash,” says the Public Accounts Committee.
And the federal government is spending “effectively over the chances” on free colleges whereas different colleges are in poor situation, says the cross-party committee.
Ministers say free colleges are key to assembly demand for varsity locations.
The federal government has pledged to open 500 extra free colleges, that are state-funded however independently run, by 2020 and has plans for an extra 110.
The MPs’ investigation builds on a National Audit Office report in February which mentioned billions had been being spent on free colleges whereas many current faculty buildings had been crumbling.
The NAO mentioned this was a “vital danger to long-term worth for cash”.
The MPs agree that having sufficient faculty locations in secure, high-quality buildings, the place they’re wanted, is essential.
“With out this, mother and father might have much less selection, pupils might have inconvenient journeys to high school and the educational atmosphere could also be much less efficient, placing academic outcomes in danger,” they are saying.
They be aware that final yr the DfE supplied £four.5bn to keep up and enhance faculty buildings however will face “vital challenges over the following few years” as buildings age.
As well as, 420,000 new faculty locations might be wanted by 2021, many in secondary colleges the place provision is costlier than at main stage.
They be aware that whereas free colleges are serving to to satisfy the necessity for brand spanking new faculty locations in some areas, they’re creating spare capability in others, in some circumstances 20% over what is required.
“Within the context of extreme monetary constraints, it is important that the division makes use of its funding in a extra coherent and value efficient approach,” say the MPs, who add that they “stay to be satisfied” that assembly the federal government’s free colleges goal “is the perfect use of the restricted funds out there”.
They are saying too many free colleges are in unsuitable momentary buildings, missing exterior area and sports activities amenities.
They urge the DfE “to work successfully with native authorities to grasp native demand for varsity locations”.
Committee chairwoman Meg Hillier mentioned the free colleges programme was “diverting some huge cash” from faculty upkeep.
“What we need to see is a way more balanced programme of capital funding in order that current poor faculty buildings get the funding and funding they want and people new colleges are constructed, in addition to no matter the federal government chooses to do on the free colleges programme.
“In the intervening time one is skewing the opposite.”
Geoff Barton, normal secretary of the Affiliation of Faculty and Faculty Leaders, mentioned the report mirrored head academics’ considerations.
“Creating surplus locations is an inefficient use of public cash and damages current colleges the place spare capability is created,” mentioned Mr Barton.
The DfE mentioned it could think about the report rigorously and reply in the end.
The federal government says greater than three-quarters of the free colleges accredited had been in areas the place new locations had been wanted and the overwhelming majority had been rated good or excellent by Ofsted.