You can read 19 more articles this month
FREE schools are failing to fulfil their proclaimed purpose of offering “innovative,” parent-led curriculums, according to a new report published today by the National Foundation for Educational Research and the Sutton Trust.
Of the 152 primary free schools in England, only 35 per cent were “innovative,” compared with 29 per cent of the 113 secondary free schools.
It also finds that disadvantaged students are less likely to go to free schools, yet those who do perform slightly better.
Teachers’ union NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said children and local communities “deserved better.”
“The introduction of free schools and academies not only caused great turbulence, anxiety and uncertainty for all involved, but also saw millions of pounds of public money squandered,” she said.
When then education secretary Michael Gove launched the free schools programme in 2010, he claimed it would allow parents to set up schools in their communities, but 59 per cent of all free schools have involved multiacademy trusts in their creation.
National Education Union (NEU) joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said the union has always pointed out that the free school programme is an “ill-conceived and misguided” policy.
“Free schools add nothing to the school system, but instead have, in many cases, undermined existing schools where they have been established in areas without basic need for new school places,” he said.
“Many primary free schools have been set up in areas where available capacity exceeds forecast need by at least 10 per cent.
“At a time of school funding cuts, this has created unwelcome competition for pupils and vital school funding.”
Mr Courtney said the notion of “increased parental choice” was “simply smoke and mirrors.”
He added: “Free schools are state-funded schools and their pupil populations should reflect the make-up of their neighbourhoods.
“The fact that they control their own admissions is an aspect of the free school programme that the NEU has long opposed.”
Mr Courtney said the programme’s high costs to taxpayers, which he put at an average of £8.6 million per school, could have been better invested in existing state schools and in funding local authorities to establish new maintained schools that are accountable to local communities.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.