Will free schools drive up standards? Read Toby Young's guest post and join the conversation

(706 Posts)
ElenMumsnetBloggers (MNHQ) Thu 01-Dec-11 10:46:14

Are free schools ready to fall or fly? Do they really drive up standards or are they a snobbish gimmick? And should more parents be setting up their own schools? Journalist and producer Toby Young explains why he set up the West London Free School and what makes the free school proposition an exciting one. Join the conversation that Toby's begun and have your say on free schools.

timetoplaysanta Sat 23-Nov-13 11:15:41

Talkinpeace said "Most free schools do not take SEN kids"

Show me a free school admissions policy that excludes them Talkinpeace!

Children with SEN statements that name the school will be prioritised for entry. It's illegal to do otherwise.

However I suspect most authors of SEN statements, and parents of SEN children, would want a school to be up and running for a while, with a demonstrable track record, before naming it as their school of choice. That's why the numbers are low. Because they're new schools, not becasue they're free schools.

ipadquietly Fri 22-Nov-13 21:13:17

That wouldn't have passed the SPaG test, would it? grin

ipadquietly Fri 22-Nov-13 21:11:50

Too bloody true talkingpeace (having been at a governors' meeting last night discussing our £10k DEFICIT.)

The free schools failures (fraud/mismanagement/poor quality of education, etc) are making me SOOOOOOO MAD (yes, I am shouting). How much has been wasted on these money wasting enterprises? How many millions of pounds?

Where necessary, the LA could have opened another school. All teacher would be working to the same standards. Why wasn't that done?

Aloowing any Tom, Dick or Harry to open a free school with the offer of loads of money is an invitation for someone to try to pull a fast one. The idea is naive.

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Nov-13 20:11:24

And the ordure starts to interact with the ventilation device
www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25059495

sidneypie Thu 31-Oct-13 20:52:28

Mrs Jamin ' The intake for this will mostly be from a very diverse area including council housing and areas of deprivation.' ....but primarily from the primary school opened by the same group as I said in my earlier post!!
A letter printed in todays local paper confirms that priority access will be given to the children from that very primary school ahead of all other children in the catchment area - information only made available because of a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

sidneypie Sun 27-Oct-13 18:38:12

Other schools manage - Kendrick for example. It is hardly tiny. Are you saying the EFA are not able to identify a suitable site, I thought that was their job! From the plans available they have clearly identified areas for outdoor sports.

MrsJamin Sun 27-Oct-13 18:32:04

Yes of course they should accept a tiny site on the edge of the catchment area so that children would have to be bussed to an area a few miles away for sports lessons, you are right hmm

sidneypie Sat 26-Oct-13 22:19:29

Sorry! posted twice in error!

sidneypie Sat 26-Oct-13 22:17:03

Mrs Jamin My 'facts' came from the Ofsted report and other government websites. If the parents are really so committed to opening a secondary school for all children concerned they would have accepted the site bought by the EFA and opened in 2014. Are they really suggesting parents send their children to one school for Year 7 and then transfer them a year later? I, like a lot of other people have severe reservations about free schools in general and the people who think they are capable of running them - and I am not alone, look at the posts on this thread and others.

sidneypie Sat 26-Oct-13 22:15:28

Mrs Jamin My 'facts' came from the Ofsted report and other government websites. If the parents are really so committed to opening a secondary school for all children concerned they would have accepted the site bought by the EFA and opened in 2014. Are they really suggesting parents send their children to one school for Year 7 and then transfer them a year later? I, like a lot of other people have severe reservations about free schools in general and the people who think they are capable of running them - and I am not alone, look at the posts on this thread and others.

MrsJamin Sat 26-Oct-13 17:44:04

Sidneypie. I know which school you are talking about, and I need to put you straight about a few facts. The junior school intake is based on the infant c of e intake. The free school therefore can't really help its demographic. Also I know of many children who have English as a second language there. Any places not taken by infant school children are open to anyone in the local area. The secondary school is being set up because there is a dire need for secondary places in the local area in the coming years. The intake for this will mostly be from a very diverse area including council housing and areas of deprivation. The parents who set up these schools have basically all been working part time voluntarily, they are stars of the local community. So get your facts straight before you knock people who are doing the best for the benefit of all local children and not just their own.

cory Wed 23-Oct-13 09:18:36

They haven't done much for driving up standards in Sweden, a country that used to be top of the ranking lists and has been slipping rather badly in later years.

And having had to lean on the LEA for support for my disabled dd I hate to think where we would be if there was nobody the school was accountable to.

The problem is, you think of a free school as a place that would be full of likeminded people. But in reality you have to work with the people around you and if their interests don't happen to coincide with yours...

I just don't see how I could have rustled up a community of parents of bright children in wheelchairs. Most of them would have had totally different priorities. I needed to be able to say "these are the rules".

Talkinpeace Sun 20-Oct-13 20:12:55

Yes. Certainly for SEN.

greyvix Sun 20-Oct-13 17:06:00

No.

sidneypie Sat 19-Oct-13 21:42:37

The local free school here recently received an outstanding Ofsted rating.
It has approx. 40 pupils, no FSM pupils , no children with statements, very few children that are not white british ,no children with English as a second language and a teacher/pupil ratio 1:6. Compare with local community school which more accurately reflects the local community - 254 pupils 11.8% SEN, 68% EAL and 24.8% on FSM - rated good by Ofsted. The group that set up this free school now want to set up a secondary school in the same area presumably so the same children at the primary free school do not have to mix with the 'locals'. Definitely the middle class 'pointy elbow' brigade at work methinks.

ElfHire Sat 19-Oct-13 21:31:49

No

jackstarb Mon 12-Dec-11 13:33:12

'funded by the state' is not the same as state run. Many countries allow schools (and hospitals) to be state funded but run independently.

Even in Finland there are some independent schools. The only conditions of operations are; that the state fund them and no fees may be charged directly to parents.

Denmark also has several privately run schools. If you send your child to one, the state subsidises your fees.

smallwhitecat Mon 12-Dec-11 11:21:22

Message withdrawn

onceinawhile Mon 12-Dec-11 08:33:49

The voucher system is certainly something I have seen working quite successfully both for health and education in my home country. It gives people more choice and it makes different type of treatment and education more affordable to more people.

The downside of this is that there is then less investment into the state, so for those 20% who have no choice the provision is certainly worse. There is never a perfect system!

Xenia Sun 11-Dec-11 22:21:11

I like a rich and varied state and not much control. I would not be against one very basic form of state education with vouchers for everyone else and no religion in state schools either though. If we could say have 20% of children in state schools and the rest paying for their education through various means that might lead to a better system given how badly the state does most things.

noblegiraffe Sun 11-Dec-11 21:30:33

" it is duty-bound to get out of the way and let them provide it for themselves."

But that is not what Free Schools are. Free Schools are funded by the state. Private schools are a different matter entirely.

smallwhitecat Sun 11-Dec-11 21:16:29

Message withdrawn

noblegiraffe Sun 11-Dec-11 19:39:31

I see, a protestant capitalist. I don't think Jesus was a big fan of the accumulation of wealth - instructing the rich man to give all his possessions to the poor if he wanted to get to heaven for example. Jesus also instructed his followers to pay their taxes (Paul was also very clear on this point)

"Free schools gives people a chance to work hard"
I don't think they've been tested and proved yet have they? I don't think going to a state school precludes working hard either.

"ensure the school environment suits their own personal ethics"
However bonkers, hmmm? Is it really the state's role to provide whatever people want?

Xenia Sun 11-Dec-11 18:50:18

Christianity is much more about our duties to our families and others than about getting things free (never "for free" by the way; the for is a superfluous preposition). We have lost the work ethic set out in the Bible and most moral codes and people want to take take take and just complain. Free schools gives people a chance to work hard and give and ensure the school environment suits their own personal ethics whatever they might be.

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