Some of England’s first “free schools” are opening their doors to pupils.

Twenty-four are due to open in the next few weeks – the majority next week.

On Thursday, lessons will begin at two schools – Aldborough E-ACT primary in Redbridge, London, and the Hindu Krishna-Avanti primary in Leicester.

The government says the state-funded but semi-independent schools will improve standards but critics say they will take pupils and money from other schools at a time of cut-backs.

Free schools are very similar to academies in that they do not have to follow the national curriculum, can vary the pay and conditions of teachers, are directly funded by central government and are outside of local authority control.

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