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Tory schools policy - what do you think of idea of allowing parents/others to start their own schools? A good plan or no?

(169 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Apr-10 13:32:13

The Tories are saying in their manifesto that they plan to develop schools under the Swedish "free schools" and the US "charter school" models: small, autonomous schools run and set up by parents, teachers, universities, faith groups and voluntary groups.

What do you reckon? Could you find the time/energy to start a school? Would you rather attend a school run by a small autonomous group or by central government?

(Am due on BBC news 24 to discuss so your thoughts would be much appreciated)

Iklboo Tue 13-Apr-10 13:33:54

God not where I live. The curriculum would be robbin', filling out benefit forms, fake tanning & smoking grin

nickytwotimes Tue 13-Apr-10 13:38:40

No way.

Allow professionals to run things. May be flawed, but better than the way amatuers would do things.

If parents want to run schools they can. Go to teacher training college and follow the existing career path. Many do so already...

CMOTdibbler Tue 13-Apr-10 13:39:42

It's a terrible idea - the last thing we need is for groups to be able to brainwash educate children only in the areas that they believe they should know about, and paid for by the state.

zazizoma Tue 13-Apr-10 13:44:31

Love the idea, love it love it love it. The sole reason this household will be voting Tory.

I'd much rather my child attend a school run by a small autonomous professional group than a central government school. I would find time to participate in setting up such a school, and to find the teachers and professionals required to work it.

Diversity is great.

It needs to be understood that this is not extended homeschooling, that there will still be requirements for said schools regarding professionalism and care, and that parents won't be teaching.

hocuspontas Tue 13-Apr-10 13:51:52

But parents are only interested while their children are of an age. Witness PTAs Governing bodies etc. They probably have an agenda. I wouldn't trust 'em grin

smallwhitecat Tue 13-Apr-10 13:52:57

Message withdrawn

longfingernails Tue 13-Apr-10 14:03:34

Brilliant idea.

It's already working, in practice. Not just in this country, but in America, Canada, etc.

It's easy to be cynical - but remember they already have hundreds of parents groups signed up and ready to go.

Of course, the Brownites in Labour hate it, because they hate the idea that you don't just take what you are given from on high. Ask the Blairites in Labour though, and you will get a very different response...

MillyMollyMoo Tue 13-Apr-10 14:07:41

I think schools should be able to opt out of government control and the fact that many independent/private schools achieve at least as good results shows that it can be done.
Locally the top 5 include 2 state grammars and three indies out of the whole county achieving pass rates of 5 GCSE's or more which strikes me as very poor, it can't get much worse can it ?

Blu Tue 13-Apr-10 14:08:09

No way.

No more restrictive 'special interest' schools for particular sections of society. Sweden seems to have an intrinsic egalitarian outlook - here the parents most motivated to do this could well be driven by all sorts of separtist and fundementalist obsessions.

Though I would be in favour of closer partnerships with parents in the creation of schools which upheld the Local Authority's standard comunity school admissions policy.

Callisto Tue 13-Apr-10 14:10:10

Very good friends of mine send their children to a school like this in Denmark. HE is unheard of there because any parent(s) can start their own school if they don't like the ones that already exist. It works brilliantly well, the children are thriving and obviously well educated and the teaching staff are all excellent as they are interviewed by the parents.

It amazes me that sections of our society hate any kind of freedom to go against the norm. This knee jerk reaction that because it isn't directly organised by the state, it must be bad. Very strange.

Callisto Tue 13-Apr-10 14:12:12

Blu, the parents most motivated to do this will probably be the ones whose children have been failed by the state system. I doubt that lots of terrorist training camps will be starting up.

anastaisia Tue 13-Apr-10 14:12:49

I like it. Education is a parental duty anyway. You can choose to delegate parts of it to a school but it remains your legal responsibility and not the State's.

If the existing provision isn't meeting your family/child's needs why shouldn't you be able to take more action?

minipie Tue 13-Apr-10 14:17:35


What I would really like is one or two schools that I could get my kids into, reasonably nearby, with a good standard of education.

I don't have the time or experience to set up and run a school, and nor do most mothers. Private corporations could help with the running bit, but will no doubt want to cream off a profit. I think this would just lead to a whole lot more faith state schools (and really extreme ones at that), or other really niche schools that reflect a particular group's view.

MegBusset Tue 13-Apr-10 14:18:02

Only if I can set up a totally secular school. Though I somehow expect that as usual, although any faith will be catered for, atheists won't hmm

zazizoma Tue 13-Apr-10 14:19:26

The Liberal Democrats are proposing something similar called sponsor-managed schools.

MegBusset Tue 13-Apr-10 14:20:30

Cross-posted with Minipie's v good point. My concerns are not that I can't send my kids to a small autonomous school, they're that all the local state schools are highly oversubscribed and underfunded.

anastaisia Tue 13-Apr-10 14:22:38

MegBusset I'm pretty sure you could set up a secular school under the proposals.

Blu Tue 13-Apr-10 14:23:15

Callisto - I mean middle class parents who are terrified of their children attending a school which has refugees / children with ESOL etc and the many other things I see raised as concerns when people on MN are choosing between local schools.

But I do have tremendous sympathy with parents who want more flexibility and whose children have been failed. hence my interest in closer partnerships with parents - a sort of parent run Academy, perhaps, but within open admission guidelines. Not restrictive enclaves. I would like schools to be less subjugated by the iron rule of the NC, and many other changes - but I can lobby for this within the existing system. Improvements in the system should benefit all schools, not just set up by parents to cater for their particular children.

scarletlilybug Tue 13-Apr-10 14:24:49

Why restrict freedom of choice regarding children's education to those who can afford to pay for private schools?

hocuspontas Tue 13-Apr-10 14:27:10

How much of the money that will initially fund these schools could go towards improving existing schools? E.g. Higher teacher/pupil ratios.

zazizoma Tue 13-Apr-10 14:27:39

Blu, my experience of US charter schools is that they are required to have the same admissions policies as other state schools (unlike JFS here for example.) I therefore don't share your concerns about creating more state schools with closed admissions guidelines.

This policy seems to be an extension and expansion of the existing academy system.

LittleWhiteWolf Tue 13-Apr-10 14:33:29

Their whole education policy is ridiculous. On the one hand they want to promote the ability for parents to charge, but on the other they want to regulate schools by putting kids in rows and reciting kings and queens of england until it sinks in, thus taking education back to the '50s.

Strikes me that the Tories have no clue what goes on outside of public schools and this new plan will do nothing but create elitism with the state school sector.

minipie Tue 13-Apr-10 14:36:23

Blu - Perhaps parents could be involved more at the local council level (i.e. deciding what sort of school provision is needed in the area), not just with individual schools?

My main issue with this policy is that it seems like the Conservatives are washing their hands of the responsibility of offering decent schools. They are just saying "over to you then" instead. What happens to kids in areas where the state-run schools are rubbish and the local parents don't have the time etc to start a new school?

MagicMountain Tue 13-Apr-10 14:37:23

I can see how this might work but share Blu's concern about fundamentalism of one sort or another.

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