Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The teachers’ union has criticised the cost of cancelled free school projects

Almost 140 m has been “wasted” on free colleges and other new types of school, which either closed early or failed to open at all, mentions a teachers’ union.

The National Union of Teachers said the money was spent on 62 free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools which either closed, partly closed or did not open.

The NUT said the data was chiefly drawn from government websites.

The Department for Education said free schools were popular with parents.

The figures were published by the National Union of Teach during its annual conference – which had highlighted concerns about school budget shortages.

The union’s general secretary Kevin Courtney said pastors should apologise to teachers and mothers for the 138.5 m “thrown away” on these abandoned projects.

‘Appalling waste’

“These figures make clear that the free school, UTC and studio school programs were ill-thought policies which, in many cases, resulted in an appalling waste of significant sums of money, ” said Mr Courtney.

University technical colleges( UTCs) and studio schools have an emphasis on vocational skills for 14 to 19 -year-olds.

“In the case of the closed UTCs, an average of 10 m was spent on each school, rising to 15 m in the case of Tottenham UTC.

“That sums of this magnitude ought to have thrown away at a time when schools across the country are screaming out for funding for staff, to furnish a balanced and comprehensive curriculum and to ensure essential resources and equipment are available, is criminal.”

Education Secretary Justine Greening this week announced that 131 new schools had been approved under the free school program, creating around 69,000 places.

‘More choice’

Free schools are country schools that are outside of local authority networks and which are put up by groups such as academy trusts, charities, parents and community groups.

There are now about 800 free schools either open or in the pipeline.

The NUT said the 138.5 m on the closing of the or unopened schools would have paid for 3,680 teaches for a year.

Mr Courtney added: “The true-life costs of these policy failures is even greater. There is a human expense in the interruption caused to the education of the thousands of those students who attended schools which have closed.

“Usually it is local authorities who have had to pick up the parts by receiving alternative places for the displaced children.

“The NUT’s biggest concern is that the government is intent on carried out with these programmes despite developing proof that the UTC and studio schools programmes cannot attract sufficient numbers of pupils.”

Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said it was further proof that the “free schools programme is a deep inefficient style to provide the new school places that are desperately needed”.

The Department for Education said free schools were popular with parents and their creation had given mothers more choices in receiving good local schools.

“The construction costs of a newly-built free school are 29% lower than those built under the previous school building program, ” said an education department spokeswoman.

“They likewise operate under a much more robust accountability system than council-run schools, signifying we can take swift action to deal with underperformance.”