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To think this Free School was not a good idea? and there is something wrong with the way in which the DfE measures demand for a school.

(38 Posts)
nlondondad Thu 26-Jun-14 10:25:24

A story has appeared in a Wolverhampton paper. This is an edited version of the story, full story available at the link below.

"Anand Primary School opened its doors in Wolverhampton in September last year.

But it can today be revealed the body set up to oversee the running of the school has agreed to relinquish its control amid fears about the low number of pupils - just 20 - on the school roll.

Headteacher Kulbinder Kaur Pouni, who took up her post in September 2013, told the Express & Star she had resigned and would be leaving on September 1.

Anand Primary aims to have 420 pupils on its books by 2019....

...But only 20 children started classes last September - 40 fewer than the initial target of 60 starts.

And a letter from the Wolverhampton Local Education Authority sent out to governors in February stated only 14 pupils had put the school down as first choice for next year...."

sashh Thu 26-Jun-14 12:25:56

Meanwhile in the same newspaper and the same city 5 bulge classes are planned at a cost of 15 million.

Wouldn't it be better to bus children to the empty school? I know people want to be able to walk their children to school and shipping them across town is not the easiest option but what is the point of having an empty school in one area and 1 mile away building temporary classrooms

SarcyMare Thu 26-Jun-14 12:31:34

maybe this is an important line
"It is run with Sikh principals but open to people of all faiths or none, aims to have 420 pupils on its books by 2019."

i have no idea what sikh principles are so am not sure i would be happy sending my child to such a faith based school. And i wouldn't be happy asking someone as something i consider a deal breaker might not even cross their mind to mention as it is such an ordinary part of their life.

One example could be how boys and girls are treated (this is pure speculation and something that might worry me)

SaucyJack Thu 26-Jun-14 12:33:23

It's a Sikh school Sassh so I don't think it would be correct to make non-Sikh kids go there just because they have space.

theeternalstudent Thu 26-Jun-14 12:35:29

I just hate the increased place religion has in our schools and the free school idea is open to abuse and miss management.

SaucyJack Thu 26-Jun-14 12:36:36

It's a Sikh school Sassh so I don't think it would be correct to make non-Sikh kids go there just because they have space.

BarbarianMum Thu 26-Jun-14 12:52:28

Well to be fair lots of children are forced to go to C of E schools when their parents do not share that faith. So I don't think that should be a reason (although I have a lot of sympathy with the idea that religious schools should be optional and not receive state support).

I wouldn't personally choose this school. The lack of track record would bother me more than its religious principles tbh. It is not so easy to run a school well.

Theas18 Thu 26-Jun-14 12:58:33

Why not fill it with non sikh kids? If it was a catholic school they'd get allocated there , or, as in our city the Jewish primary school is more other faiths than Jewish, and interestingly thes are mostly muslim!

A quick google gives you this:

Principles of sikhism

Naam Japna – to engage in a daily practice of meditation and Nitnem by reciting and chanting of God’s Name.
Kirat Karni – to live honestly and earn by ones physical and mental effort while accepting God's gifts and blessings. A Sikh has to live as a householder carrying out his or her duties and responsibilities to the fullest.
Vand Chakna – to share their wealth within the community and outside by giving Dasvand and practising charity (Daan), to "share and consume together.”

Not a bad set of rules for anyone to start out knowing about and living a little by. THey clearly take all religions and none .

AgaPanthers Thu 26-Jun-14 13:10:04

Hmm, it seems like they shouldn't have approved the school, because clearly there wasn't enough demand for Sikh education in that area.

A non-Sikh school would be full.

SarcyMare Thu 26-Jun-14 13:30:36

the trouble is the principles of a religeon as stated in it's public literature does not always translate into how certain people choose to live that religeon.

for example what does "dressing modestly" mean to you:
to me it means not showing your privates in public, to my mother it means wearing clothing down to your knee and not showing your midrift, to some it means wearing the full burka.

i chose this example as it was easiest to demonstrate and i am sure every faith text has some items that have been taken to extreme.

ThinkAboutItTomorrow Thu 26-Jun-14 13:33:17

Absolutely Aga. We need good schools in the right place not faith schools in the wrong place

There seems to be the same issue in Wandsworth with the Mosaic Free school.

It is a badly located Jewish school. I am atheist so oppose any faith in school but to be honest after a CofE and Methodist childhood I can accept / ignore the minimal amount of religion in CofE schools (Methodist was a bit more hardcore so would probably avoid). But Mosaic in Wandsworth is a school teaching Hebrew. I don't want my DD wasting her time learning Hebrew!

I think the council have backed off now and opened another bulge class as parents revolted over being allocated this school but it seems like such a waste of council resources.

Wandsworth census made it pretty obvious that we really weren't going to be able to meet the schools 50% Jewish 50% other faiths / no faith admission target:

Christian 162,590 - 613 faith school places per school year! (1 faith school place for every 265 people of the Christian faith)

Muslim: 24,746 - 60 faith school places per school year! (1 faith school place for every 412 people of the Muslim faith)

Jewish: 1,617 - 60 faith school places at Mosaic per school year! (1 faith school place for every 27 people of the Jewish faith)

Assuming a fair few of the 27 people of Jewish faith are not in their childbearing years there was no way half of the kids were likely to be Jewish. Every year.

It's not rocket science - we need good schools, in the right locations, run along principles that make them appealing to most parents. The majority of parents don't want faith based principles - any faith usually, never mind one that is different from your own.

AgaPanthers Thu 26-Jun-14 13:36:05

I suspect the majority of parents want Christian schools, if they are perceived to be better (usually = more middle class) than the alternatives.

I'm not really sure why this is deemed better than making schools selective tbh.

canweseethebunnies Thu 26-Jun-14 13:44:43

It really depends how strictly they enforce religious principles on students. It's really no worse than sending non-Christian kids to a C of E school, as other posters have said. Catholic schools have a reputation for being more proscriptive, but generally those ones don't actually want non-catholic students.

Most religions, practiced moderately, have pretty decent (and pretty similar) guiding principles. I would be as happy to sends my dd to to a C of E school as a Sikh one ( which is, not massively happy, but it wouldn't be the end of the world if it it was a good school).

ThinkAboutItTomorrow Thu 26-Jun-14 13:50:59

Christian schools are 'better' because the parent's of the kids who go there are the sort who are so involved in their children's education that they are willing to give up there Sunday mornings for 12 months to get their kid into a good school.

That kind of commitment is in itself selective and self reinforcing of the 'good' vs 'not so good' schools.

ThinkAboutItTomorrow Thu 26-Jun-14 13:52:47

canweseethebunnies but how about a school where learning Hebrew is mandatory? I would resent the chunk of my child's learning time being given over to that.

ReallyTired Thu 26-Jun-14 13:58:41

I would not send my child to a non christian faith school however good the results or the OFSTED was. I would find it hard to support the ethos of such a school.

canweseethebunnies Thu 26-Jun-14 14:10:53

I do agree Think. The point of free schools (apart from the dubious financial reasons) is to give parents more of a choice, but if you're basically forced to send your child to a school that teaches Hebrew when you don't want that, but there are no other spaces, then it's not working is it?

However, you never know, Hebrew might come in useful grin unless it's an archaic version of the language that's uses purely for religious texts?

sashh Thu 26-Jun-14 14:35:57

I'm quite aware it is a Sikh school, although not exclusively Sikh, but one of the primaries getting a bulge class is C of E.

So it's OK to force kids to go to a C of E school but not to a Sikh one?

ReallyTired Thu 26-Jun-14 17:35:41

"So it's OK to force kids to go to a C of E school but not to a Sikh one?"

I expect that the C of E school is very over subscribed and that the parents are quite happy for their kids to go there. It would be interesting to know if any of the parents whose children are in the bulge class for the C of E school are upset with their allocation.

A lot of white British people are culturally christian in the loosest of sense. Most people know what the C of E will teach children as we had it at school.

LoveSardines Thu 26-Jun-14 17:42:41


Erm a faith school is a faith school (in the public sector anyway) and I am aghast that people think it's OK for non christians to have little choice but a christian school, yet to get non <insert other religion here> children to go to a christian school is just fine and dandy!

Really shocked.

Anyway. I am against faith schools on principle full stop and think the free school thing is not being overseen correctly. Clearly a system which ends up spending £££ on schools with no pupils while others are being crammed into portacabins is all wrong.

LoveSardines Thu 26-Jun-14 17:44:13

Our area the primary schools are about 70% faith of various types.

The idea that it is AOK for a jewish kid to end up at a christian school because there is no choice while it is not OK for a christian kid to end up at a jewish school because there is no choice is just really outrageous frankly.

ReallyTired Thu 26-Jun-14 17:52:29

Ideally everyone should have a choice of school. Every child should have the right to a community school. Unfortunately appauling town planning, uncontrolled immigration has led to a situation where there are not enough places.

I am unhappy that my daughter is at an OFSTED inadequate school. Unless I choose to home educate, I have little choice but to send her there.

Rather than offended on behalf of people you have never met, have any of the parents raised any objections to a place at the C of E School?

LoveSardines Thu 26-Jun-14 18:11:23

People I have never met? How do you mean?

nlondondad Thu 26-Jun-14 20:04:15

I think there are two seperate issues here:-

1.Should there be state financed faith schools?


2.Surely the real issue raised by this school is that it was not needed as there was not the demand for it. So how come the DfE spent over 1,5 million on the school, now being closed for lack of pupils?

ThinkAboutItTomorrow Thu 26-Jun-14 20:18:25

I think the question is was the problem in Wolverhampton one of location or was it parental bias against the faith of the school.

If the latter then the question is one of should we have state funded faith schools and if we do how do we manage that in a multifaith community?

If it was about location then the councillors have some serious explaining to do.

Or actually in my understanding it is another Gove disaster. We have a crisis in school places and councils are banned from planning and building new schools. They have to encourage free schools. No wonder they jump on anyone who wants to start a free school and hope it can drum up custom. If the alternative is just to have bulge classes wrecking good schools by overcrowding what else would councils do?

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