Another 131 free schools have been approved by the Government, the largest during this Parliament.

According to ministers, the move will create around 69,000 places for pupils.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said the decision will "give parents more choices" and offer a good education to children regardless of their background or "however different their talents".

Labour argue it will be "enormously expensive and inefficient".

Free schools are non-selective, new state schools that are not under local council control and have freedom over areas such as staff pay and the curriculum.

The new wave will include a secondary school in Dartford put forward by the Endeavour Multi Academy Trust, which currently runs two grammar schools.

Others include the Flagship School in Hastings, a special school being led by parents which will offer 56 places for nine to 16-year-olds and Sapientia Primary Prep School for five to 11-year-olds, proposed by the Sapientia Education Trust, which runs Wymondham College - the largest state boarding school in England.

More than 10,000 extra places will be available in London, with the introduction of 18 new free schools.  

Money troubles

The move comes at a time the country is experiencing a school funding crisis. 

The Government’s proposed plans to introduce a 'fair funding formula' (FFF) will result in money being spread out more equally across England but a loss of funding of £3 billion across the country.

A recent survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) suggested that parents are being asked to pay for textbooks, art materials and to buy tickets for school plays and sports events in an attempt by schools to bridge the funding gap.

Around 800 free schools have been either approved or built.

A report from the National Audit Office reported that opening 833 free schools by 2021 would cost £9.7 billion.

The Shadow Education Secretary Angela Raynor said new school places are "welcome and necessary".

However, she added: "Today's announcement alone almost certainly comes with a huge price tag, without necessarily even providing new school places in the areas that need them most.

"And this is at a time when existing schools are facing a severe funding crisis."