Sunday, August 26, 2007

Parents setting up their own schools

A report in the Observer suggests the next Tory policy review to report will recommend that parents should be allowed to set up their own schools to rival those of the local authority.
In areas where schools are performing badly, the report adds, councils would have no power to stop them.

Already the Lib Dem blogosphere is voicing its disapproval. Liberal Leslie snorts:

of course it doesn’t mention if the schools will be able to have entrance exams and parents “top up” their schools receiving state money.
But it has always seemed to me that Liberals should be supportive of such moves. We should be the party of diversity and local provision, but too often we sound like the champions of the administrative status quo. Provision by local authorities is not the only conceivable way of running schools.

The problem for the Tories is that they do not really want to see a rich patchwork of diverse local provision. What they really want is a business model where successful schools grow by taking over unsuccessful schools. The danger is that, in the process, they will dilute all the individual factors that have made them the successes.

You see echoes of this business model in the Observer report:

Dorrell's report will also recommend that the Conservatives bring in a policy pledge to greatly expand city academies, increase their freedom and allow them to operate over multiple sites.
One of the reasons that the comprehensive system got off to an uncertain start in many places was that many new comprehensive schools were formed by merging existing establishments and had to operate on split sites. Encouraging city academies to do the same thing will do no one any favours.

1 comment:

Bishop Hill said...

I read the bit about operating over multiple sites as allowing for the creation of chains of schools under a single management structure. This would surely be a good thing.