CHILDREN'S Secretary Ed Balls accused the Conservatives of making "irresponsible" promises to parents as he turned down a new school in Kirklees.
Mr Balls rejected a request by a parents' group for a new secondary school in Birkenshaw, saying it would have a detrimental effect on education elsewhere in the borough.
He claimed the Conservatives were suggesting parents could have a "free lunch" by building new schools - but said doing this would in fact be expensive and have a negative impact on other children.
Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove is proposing to allow parents' groups, charities, trusts and voluntary groups to set up and operate schools on the Swedish model, which would be taxpayer-funded and non-fee-paying but independent from state control.
The Conservatives argue that this system will give parents more choice and drive up standards across the system because of the element of competition it will create.
Mr Balls rejected the Kirklees parents' proposal for a new secondary school with 900 places after commissioning a report into the impact of the plans.
He said: "I don't think it's responsible to give parents the impression that this is a free lunch - it's not. The Kirklees report makes that very clear indeed. What's happening here is that the Conservative Party are saying to the Kirklees parents' group, 'of course you can have a new school, that's our policy'.
"The free market schools policy the Conservatives are pursuing would, as this makes clear, be at the detriment of other children and other parents and other schools in the district."
Mr Balls claimed that the model being promoted by the Conservatives had led to "greater inequality and lower standards" in Sweden and would lead to decision-making being taken away from the local level.
He said: "The truth is it would be the biggest centralisation of education policy and planning we have ever seen. The only way he could avoid there being massive centralisation is by having enough money to allow the market process to work, but I don't know where he's going to get this money from."
Full story in Tuesday's Examiner.