Stories + Views
How effective is the DfE vetting system of Free School Proposers?
The British Centre for Science Education wrote to Michael Gove to voice their concerns that fundamentalist churches are making proposals to set up free schools. They fear that these applicants will then pursue an educational agenda across the curriculum to “promote a liberal interpretation of the bible” according to the Guardian.
Although Michael Gove has responded by saying that he is “crystal clear that teaching creationism is at odds with scientific fact”, one school with a “distinctive Christian ethos that permeates every aspect of school life” will open in September.
Since free schools can be set up by virtually anyone – parents, teachers, charities, businesses – is it not “crystal clear” that the individuals or organizations applying to set up free schools will be acting either out of vested self interest or exploiting loopholes in the system that will allow them to establish, at the taxpayer’s expense, schools in which teaching of the curriculum will be subverted to pushing the agenda their institutions seeks to promote?
Although the government is at pains to stress they will turn down applications if there are “concerns about the people behind the project”, I wonder how the DfE will be able to diligently vet them all, especially now that, with the BCSE’s concern in the public domain, many of them will take great care to conceal their true motives, creationist or otherwise?
Much as free schools founders argue that their schools will be “inclusive”, I fear that this is further evidence that they are the opposite and that exclusion, discrimination and even indoctrination is being encouraged.