Sunday, November 03, 2013

Free schools, local control and the Observer

One problem free schools may face in future is that they are entirely creatures of the education secretary. A future government could bring in all sorts of measures on the curriculum or admissions or funding and they would have few defences.

For this reason David Boyle in his Broke: Who Killed the Middle Classes? says:
They should be embedded, and federated together, like other schools, under light-touch local authority control - another way of reducing the complexity of admissions - and will not be safe until they are.
And an article in today's Observer shows strong support for the idea. It says an opinion poll has found that 91 per cent of London parents with a child at a free school think local authorities have a key role in ensuring high standards.

But the Observer says more than that. It goes on:
A row has erupted over a proposed free school in Islington, London, on a site earmarked for social housing. Nick Ward, a teacher at Bethnal Green Academy, said: "Islington does not need a school run by a private consortium, taking resources from well-performing local schools, without the control of local democracy and staffed by potentially unqualified teachers, but it does need more social housing."
Who is Mr Ward and why is he being quoted here? Doesn't he sound more like a politician than a disinterested teacher from another borough?

Sure enough, if you look on Twitter you will find Nick Ward will be a Labour candidate in Islington next year.

He has every right to his opinion and his campaign, but shouldn't the Observer have found room to mention the fact?

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