Free school looks set to increase class sizes, cause redundancies and lower standards in Crawley

Francis Gilbert's picture
The Discovery New School in West Sussex plans to open as a Montessori Primary School in the Crawley area in 2011. It aims specifically to have small class sizes. This is bound to be at the cost to neighbouring schools in this area. There are already 28 primary schools in this area and clearly extra capacity in them. The moment the Free School starts admitting pupils, funds will be sucked away from these schools. Inevitably, class sizes will increase in order to fund "small class sizes" at the Discovery New School and teachers will been made redundant.

Perhaps the DfE will deny this but the fact is that this is bound to happen when you have a system where funds follow the pupil. When pupils are taken away from local schools, headteachers have the choice but to make teachers redundant and increase class sizes because they simply don't have the funds to run the school as before on a falling roll. What is more, these expensive free schools will inevitably take money from the overall pot of money given to schools; details about this are sketchy at the moment but the LSN is working on finding out precise figures.

While I have a great deal of sympathy with Montessori's approach, I have seen far too many Montessori schools in the private sector that are sub-standard; these teachers need to be very RIGOROUSLY trained! If they are not, there's chaos and no learning. Quite a few untrained Montessori teachers basically see the system as letting pupils do whatever they want. That's why it's so worrying that free schools will not require properly trained teachers.
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