There are so many "ifs" and "buts" about the free schools programme...

Sarah Willett's picture
 10
Having worked in education for the past ten years, the "free schools" initiative left me cold from the outset. Unfortunately I can see all the ifs, buts and maybes becoming reality with the proposal to establish a free school in my local area. We have a secondary school which needs the support of the local community and in my view putting our support behind Glossopdale Community School is the way to improve outcomes for all children locally.
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Andy Smithers's picture
Fri, 20/05/2011 - 15:20

Sarah,

How good is the local community school. Why do you think local parents feel the need to set up an alternative?
Is it the local authority to blame for the current position of the school, or the governing body?

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 20/05/2011 - 15:53

Sarah

It is great news that you are supporting your local school. There is not guarantee that Academies or free schools will perform better than existing community schools. Indeed, in the case of the free schools, their success is entirely theoretical and many of them don't even premises. There have also been many high profile failures in Academies, which the government have bailed out at great cost and perhaps to the detriment of existing LA maintained schools.

I think Andy Smithers' post above, which prefers to lay the "blame" at the door of the LA or governing body is incredibly unhelpful and immediately ignores the complexities of daily life at a school. Setting local schools against each other as if they were local supermarkets offering the "best" products with the least successful having to close down shop is an horrendous way of looking at the education of young people and it is certainly not a coherent and long term solution to improving education for each and everyone .

The school website can only give some idea of how the school works and what its value is to the students and local community. What might be really helpful and useful for your school is if you posted about how you feel about the school, what it has achieved, what it's challenges are and ultimately why it should remain open. It is often very easy, when education is discussed, to lose sight of the human and personal aspect of schools. Do please let us know more.

Andy Smithers's picture
Fri, 20/05/2011 - 17:57

I know nothing about this school other than that Sarah has raised it on this website because she is worried about Free Schools.
If I were a local parent, having read the most recent OFSTED report, I would be more worried about my local school.

There needs to be accountability in a school, someone is responsible for allowing the school to get in the position it is now in.
This website continually preaches that schools are best when run by the LA with a local accountable governing body. This has obviously not occurred here.
The OFSTED report indicates that many children are being failed.
This is not acceptable and hats off to local parents campaigning to give the children in this area a school they want.

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 20/05/2011 - 18:11

Ofsted only tells part of the story. This is why it would be a good idea for Sarah to let us know more. There is NO guarantee that free schools will succeed or do anything better. They remain to be subject to the judgment of judge and executioner Smithers here. In the meantime, resources are better spent on improving the schools that we have than pandering to the prejudices and sneers of those who seek to divide and condescend

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 20/05/2011 - 18:15

And by the way, as for accountability, LAs are subject to a lot of accountability, which is not happening so far with free schools and unlikely to happen in the near future. I do wish Mr. Smithers would check his facts and pause for thought before he condemns. It would so much more constructive.

Andy Smithers's picture
Fri, 20/05/2011 - 18:31

Where is the accountability here?
To blindly oppose an alternative approach such as an academy or free school is naive and politically motivated.
I also think it's strange to be worried about free school opening in a neighbourhood when the only option for majority of children is a failing school.

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 20/05/2011 - 19:28

Where is the evidence that this is a failing school Smithers? Or are you making another one of your assumptions based on prejudice? Where is the evidence that a free school will actually open here, when the evidence so far is that no more than a handful - possibly 10 this year, possibly 20 next year (many with no actual buildings to house their operation) - will actually open? And if they do where is the evidence that they would not - as Smithers so casually puts it - fail as well? thankfully such schools are no more than a sideline.

I don't think people who are questioning of free schools are "blindly" opposed to them. Take some time to read the history of posts and see that the evidence and arguments produced prove that the bloggers here have come their conclusions based on fact, research and questioning rather than assumption or prejudice.

Read Laura McInenery's pamphlet about the pitfalls of free schools (If you can't be bothered, read Fiona Millar's post on it here) and see whether proposers here are aware of the pitfalls or have learnt from the mistakes made at many Charter Schools in America.

Mr. Smithers - people critical of free schools are politically motivated - it just suits your weak arguments to dismiss them as being so. No - what motivates us is the belief that education should be fair and accessible to all children of all abilities and the resources available should do be divided up fairly. It is a sad indictment of some people in this country that they care little or nothing for wider issues, especially when it comes to taking care of people less advantaged than them

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 20/05/2011 - 19:35

Last paragraph obviously should begin "Mr. Smithers - people critical of free schools are NOT politically motivated - ..."

Andy Smithers's picture
Fri, 20/05/2011 - 20:05

Allan,

Again you revert to your childish insults. Its a pity you always resort to this rather than actually read what anyone actually says.

I have no evidence that a free school will open in this area other than the details in Sarah Willet's original post - Sarah believes this is likely to become areality.
Read the OFSTED report about the school in question. As a parent this would have me looking for alternatives and asking serious questions as to the suitability of the current running of this school, its governance etc

However as you have often stated you are against aspirational parents and their children, you are against a rigourous academic curriculum and therefore you are always going to blindly oppose Academies and Free schools.

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 20/05/2011 - 20:36

Smithers -

Sadly we have seen little evidence from you to back up any of your claims. A group of people saying that they intend to open a free school is not the same as that they will actually have the wherewithal or indeed the funding to actually do so. Sarah may well be justified in feeling that her school is worth promoting for what it has achieved and what it can do in the future. I keep on saying it but you keeping ignoring it - there is no guarantee that a free school will provide better educational provision or standards across the board than maintained schools. You accuse me of not reading what people say but I have already said that OFSTED reports only give one perspective of a school. I hope that Sarah will give us a fuller picture, although I suspect your tendency to prejudge will preclude you from forming an informed opinion.

I'm afraid your logic is questionable and once again you end by reiterating your blind mantra. A rigorous academic curriculum is NOT the exclusive preserve of Academies, some of which have failed such as maintained schools have failed. There is NO guarantee that free schools will deliver the results you assume they will because they do NOT exist and will be assessed once they have opened. There are MANY maintained schools that are extremely successful and no amount of sneering and condescension from you is going to change that.

I wonder how cavalier you would be if risking vast amount of funds on a risky and ill thought through policy if it were coming out of your own pocket. Perhaps if it did, you would have a more charitable and inclusive attitude to all young people, not just what you so snobbishly deem "aspirational". Open up your mind to other possibilities Sir. You might learn something. Have a good weekend.

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