Competition Between Groups For Free School in Same Location

Shane Rae's picture
As has been brought to light elsewhere in this forum, the main evidence/argument for the creation of a free school is the parent petition. In fact it seems the DfE is not even bothered about seeing the petition as simply there mere mention of one can get your FS application beyond Stage 2.

So what happens when a group obtains the required signatures that 'prove' desire for a FS but another group does not see eye to eye with those who obtained the signatures? Now, the work has been done to prove desire and the signatures provide the 'proof'. So surely any group could then use this same petition to make their own application in the same community?

Not in the Inner Circle of current application, launch your own! Don't agree with faith issues? Start your own application! Think the school should be located in a different spot? Form a counter group.

Once a petition has been generated, what's to stop dozens of competing groups from entering an application? Perhaps the ensuing quagmire of competition might stall or destroy the FS process altogether.
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Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 13/03/2011 - 12:34

The free school movement could descend into chaos. FS Group 1 (enthusiastic amateurs) circulate a petition with a vague question such as “Would you like to see a new school in this area?” The petition is presented to anyone who can sign a name, whether parent or not. Better still if it’s on the web – the petition can get responses from anywhere. FS Group 1 uses this petition as evidence for their school. The DfE doesn’t ask to see the evidence so doesn’t notice that Osama Ben Laden and Lady Gaga are among the signatories. At the same time FS Group 2 (faith) submits a proposal for a school in the same area and cites the same petition. FS Group 3 (disciples of a particular educational theory) does the same. FS Group 4 (atheist) follows. There is only one possible site locally – a disused and derelict former children’s home. They could share – but none wish to. They all feel that the presence of the other groups would compromise their unique ethos. Mud starts to fly… rumours circulate…

Meanwhile, the local authority is trying to allocate children to established schools but nobody knows if there’ll be another school, or schools, somewhere in the area (sites unknown) offering unknown curricula with unknown staff.

Rosemary Mann's picture
Sun, 13/03/2011 - 12:55

The petition issue is becoming a bit of a joke. Some jokes eventually wear thin and people move on, something that some of us in my area are hoping for. The proposed Montessori free school for Lewisham had a petition of around 350 people, around 20% did not live in the area so were unlikely to want to send their children to that school. Especially no doubt the signatories who lived in East Grinstead and New Zealand.

If this school and other free schools look like materialising into reality then significant opposition will be guaranteed!

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