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Should independent schools all apply to become Free Schools and then benefit from funding from the State?

(23 Posts)
yogabird Tue 06-Sep-11 10:46:45

Or have I missed the point? Selection if you like, setting class sizes, opening all/any hours? And what if they all did do that?

meditrina Tue 06-Sep-11 10:52:50

If they all did that, the economic crisis would worsen overnight with the need to increase the schools budget by 7% just to stand still, when all other parts of the governmental budget are being cut.

There is nothing to prevent this happening. But if you are already in good financial state, I can't see why you would want to change (on the general principal of "if it aint't broke don't fix it").

And if the independent school is a charity, it may not legally be able to under current charity law (assets have to remain charitable and for broadly the same purpose as the original charity) - they cannot just be taken over by the State.

IndigoBell Tue 06-Sep-11 10:56:13

If they become a free school then they won't be able have selection exams. It will all have to be the same kind of admissions that state schools use (ie primarily distance)

Therefore many of them will no longer be attractive to parents.

They will also have to operate for around £5k a head, as opposed to what they currently charge.

So very few of them will be interested in doing so. Although I believe one or two ones already have.

happygardening Tue 06-Sep-11 11:00:22

Some boarding schools cost £31 000 a year per child I don't believe the government is going to provide that level of funding in a million years. And I agree with meditrina if for those that it ain't broke why fix it? But on the other hand I'm sure those with falling numbers might have to consider it.

prh47bridge Tue 06-Sep-11 11:03:06

Free schools are not allowed to select pupils based on academic ability. The amount they receive per pupil is a fraction of the amount charged by independent schools. So, as IndigoBell says, unlikely that many independent schools would be interested in going down this route.

admission Tue 06-Sep-11 11:11:40

I agree with IndigoBell and PRH, the only independant schools that will become free schools or academies are those that are not financially viable and are doing it to preserve the school from closure.
There is also an interesting point about if they become a free school or academy as to whether all their teaching staff then have to be qualified teachers (QTS) because that is certainly not the case in all independant schools.

aliceliddell Tue 06-Sep-11 11:16:00

I'm sure they'll manage! Maybe close as 'indy', re-open as 'free'? One way or another ...

yogabird Tue 06-Sep-11 11:21:04

hmmm was just musing on it - what if they charge 'top-up fees to their parents?

IndigoBell Tue 06-Sep-11 11:22:09

Why would they want to?

If they're already making a profit they're far better staying independent. For all the reasons they were an independent school in the first place. They can charge what they like, they can select who they want, they can ask people to leave etc......

A few are and a few will. But the vast majority won't.

And any that do will have to become truly inclusive. Not something the vast majority want to do. Pretty hard to keep up all those nice results of a private school (like good exam results and good behaviour) and still be truly inclusive.

But why does it matter? So a few kids who would have paid for education now get it for free on the state? Is that your problem? What's wrong with that?

meditrina Tue 06-Sep-11 11:24:33

If they are not a charity, they could do that. I'm pretty sure there has been at least one case of an independent school applying to become a state school (can't remember details). If they are a charity, it would have to be wound up in accordance with the Charity Commission's regulations and the law on the disposal of charitable assets (can be done, but complex).

There's a (state) grammar school in Lincolnshire applying to become a Free School. It has been told it can continue to select academically as it did before. I suspect that independent schools that select by examination will be able to continue to do so under similar provision. Selection by interview would probably have to go, as would "first come first served".

Free schools, like independents, can appoint whoever they like as staff.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 06-Sep-11 11:25:22

one of the new free schools IS an ex fee paying
Batley Grammar in Kirklees

IndigoBell Tue 06-Sep-11 12:02:57

State grammar schools can become academies and continue to select based on ability.

But that is all. I don't think any other state, academy or free school can select on ability - or select at all.

IndigoBell Tue 06-Sep-11 12:04:52

From the DFE FAQ

Can selective Free Schools be set up or can independent schools moving into the state sector as a Free School continue selective admissions based on ability?

No. Neither new Free Schools nor independent schools that enter the state system as Free Schools will be able to have academically selective admissions arrangements, apart from for their post-16 provision (see below).

Free Schools will be required to follow fair, transparent and inclusive admissions policies.

IndigoBell Tue 06-Sep-11 12:06:24

What is the admissions policy for Free Schools?

Like Academies, Free Schools will be expected to have inclusive admission arrangements.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 06-Sep-11 12:18:31


IndigoBell Tue 06-Sep-11 12:21:08

Was. No longer is, and will no longer be able to have a selective admissions policy.

So it will no longer be a grammar school.

So it's results will go down.

happygardening Tue 06-Sep-11 12:30:12

I would have thought those independent schools which opt to become free schools are probably not that selective anyway although their websites may of course may state differently but lets face it the line we'll consider anyone were so desperate to fill are vacancies does not have a particularly attractive ring to it. From my experience of children at my son's prep school many did make the required grades at CE but still got places at the schools of their choice but the ability to stump up £31000 a year opens a lot of doors. I was also talking to the head at my DS1 school (an excellent local comp) and he felt that the highly selective schools which are oversubscribed will always be there E.G. Eton Winchester St Pauls but that others may look at becoming free schools particularly if the recession lasts.

prh47bridge Tue 06-Sep-11 12:34:22

yogabird - Free schools are not allowed to charge top up fees.

meditrina - A new free school cannot be selective. The school which is currently selective can become an academy and can continue to select on academic ability.

All free schools must be part of the LA's co-ordinated admissions scheme and comply fully with the Admissions Code.

PollyParanoia Tue 06-Sep-11 17:04:03

Actually I think they will retain some degree of covert selection. I might have got my facts wrong, but I think there's one indy school going 'free', which gives priority to siblings already in the school ie those who've already been in a position to pay fees ie not exactly FSM. And there's another (again can't remember the name) that has admissions giving priority to children who've attended the nursery, which costs something like a thousand pounds a month...

IndigoBell Tue 06-Sep-11 17:10:59

Giving priority to siblings is quite a normal admissions criteria.

I don't see how they could give priority to children who've attended the nursery. You'd need to remember the name of it so we can check it out smile

prh47bridge Tue 06-Sep-11 17:33:19

I agree with IndigoBell that giving priority to children who attend the nursery may be a breach of the Admissions Code but it depends on the details. Anything that smacks of selection, covert or otherwise, can be referred to the Schools Adjudicator.

yogabird Tue 06-Sep-11 17:42:16

David Hanson, chief executive of the Independent Association of Prep Schools, has a letter published in the Times in which he writes that the similarities between free schools and the independent sector lead him to conclude that all parents should be given freedom of choice towards their children’s education. He argues that parents should be able to take the £6,000 a year it costs the Government to educate a child of primary age in the state sector and add to it whatever amount they wish. This, he writes, would dramatically increase social mobility, widen access to the independent sector and give many more children access to the best education the country has to offer.
Has he a point or is this unfair?

PollyParanoia Wed 07-Sep-11 17:54:08

I tried to find out the name of that primary school giving priority to those that had attended its private nursery, but can't darnit. It was mentioned on Local Schools Network and I was so aghast that I looked at its website's admissions details and sure enough it did give priority to those in the nursery. It had been private all the way through. Like I say, I can't even remember where it was...

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