Recently a British friend in LA described trying to get her son of primary age into a local school. She said she was in near despair as she had had to negotiate the numerous charter schools (similar to the free schools proposed by Michael Gove), private schools and state schools, all with their different application forms, requirements and point systems. 'If you think getting into schools in the UK is complicated now, wait till they bring in free schools she warned.'
There are so many questions hanging over the plans for free schools that it's difficult to know where to begin. One is the concern that a two tier system will be created when better-off middle class parents elbow their way into creating little havens for their offspring, leaving state schools to sink. The other pressing issue is funding. Funding has now been found through scrapping an IT fund (rather than using money from the rather more sensitive free school meals programme), but this will only last until March 2011. So where will the money come from after that? It seems a reckless scheme to embark on at a time when there's not much money around and when the money we do have should surely be spent on schools that already exist.