Why are so many Free School sites devoid of information?

Ros Coffey's picture
 5
OK, this evening I discovered that a local group had mooted setting up a free school where I live, so I thought I would take a look at their website:

No info on who is in the group... parents, teachers and interested individuals. They would offer learning through play, daily physical activity, widening career options through meeting diverse members of the community...

I have read the few pages that they have posted and have yet to read anything really tangible about what they will offer and yet they are expecting the community to support their plans. Am I being outrageous to expect just a tad more detail about what they are planning?
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Fiona Millar's picture
Sat, 07/05/2011 - 13:27

No information about governance and who would actually run the school either. Maybe there is another provider behind this. I have spotted quite a few examples now of the big edu-chains canvassing support for free schools without any apparent parental support. See this example from E-ACT , who have already announced that they want to run 250 schools.

Allan Beavis's picture
Sat, 07/05/2011 - 13:43

I think it is reasonable to know. If only to give parents a chance to make an informed decision about whether a free school in their area is needed to meet demand for school places or if it intends to provide the type of education you want for your child.

Also, if a chain is behind the schools, or if it is being set up by a group of parents or educators, local people should have the right to assess their suitability and voice their concerns at local meetings or to the DfE. I think the public should have a right to know about the schools proposed capital funding and running costs and if a commerical enterprise is involved in the setting up and running of the schools, they need to publish their plans so that prospective parents and schools governors are clear about their responsibilities long terms towards the schools.

It is about accountability. A lot of these schools are being set up without clear accountability and it is a serious worry. The fact they are being encouraged to spring up, with the DfE still not providing information about them despite FoI requests, suggests a lot of people have a lot of stuff to hide. There is an equal chance of free schools failing as much as succeeding. When it becomes clear that failure was the result of inadequate operational or financial planning, of misguided curriculum decisions, of threat of litigation then more people will be asking why the DfE has not been policing the set up of free schools more stringently and more transparently.

I suspect that free schools won't officially fail because they are the flagship schools of Michael Gove's educational reforms and only he can close them down. And if they fail he has failed. No - I suspect more and more money will be thrown at them, more and more sackings of staff, more and more exclusions of "unsuitable" children to prop them up. And where will this money come from? By diverting it away from LA maintained schools.

Andrew Nadin's picture
Sat, 07/05/2011 - 16:34

Because contrary to the requirement, consultation & information is rationed on a 'need to know basis'. In Bedford, it's like dealing with the CIA.....esp when they think you're against them. The current BKFS website is about 4-6 months out of date. When you ask them for an update, they ignore you (well, they ignore me!).

Tracy Hannigan's picture
Sat, 07/05/2011 - 16:46

The WHOIS entry for this domain name says it is owned by Rebecca Beales and registered on 09 April 2011. I also found this link to an article on her interest in starting a free school dated 02 May 2011.

Andrew Nadin's picture
Sat, 07/05/2011 - 19:01

Seriously beginning to suspect that freeschoolers all get the same info pack from the DfE / NSN telling them exactly what to say & do (incl what to put on a website and what NOT). I wish I had a £ for every time I've heard the "Our area has really good schools, but....." quote. Glad to see Miss Glassborow keeping the trend going

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