PLMR’s Week Ahead in Westminster: 16th January

Robert Comba

Should the free schools policy continue?

It’s perhaps safe to say one of the more divisive education policies introduced by the Tories and Lib Dems has been the introduction of free schools. Brought in by Michael Gove, free schools can be opened by parents, charities and other organisations free of local authority control.

PLMR’s Rob Comba gets both sides of the argument, first by speaking to Alasdair Smith a teacher, who also leads the campaign group, Anti Academies and then to PLMR’s Oliver Lane, a former chief press officer at the Department for Education.

Are free schools popular with teachers?

Alasdair says that from his experience working with the biggest teaching unions in the UK, that they are not.

What impact do they have on children’s education?

Alasdair thinks it’s too early to say whether they have a positive or negative impact here in the UK, but evidence from Sweden suggests there are problems with the free school system.

Can they solve the issue of increasing demand for school places?

According to Alasdair says the free school programme has not delivered in the places where they are needed most.

Oliver Lane worked at the Department for Education, he says there have been free school failures but the majority have been ‘fantastic’.

Do free schools work?

Oliver believes they do. Two thirds have been rated Outstanding by Ofsted and they offer increased choice.

Have they had a positive impact?

According to Oliver, they have. He points towards success stories in Birmingham and Leeds, which prove the policy’s worth.

Related links
BLOG: Is this the most important person in education?
BLOG: Should schools be involved in nursery provision?

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