‘Free’ schools

There’s no such thing as a free school.

Free schools are like academies only worse. At least academies are conversions from existing schools which bring with them a reputation, staff, facilities and so on. So-called free schools are created from nowhere. They do not exist and have no buildings, staff, students, OFSTED reports or examination results. Michael Gove is very keen to promote this idea which he seems to have picked up from Sweden where they sadly have a record of bringing about declining standards. No doubt it appeals to Mr Gove’s libertarian right inclinations, the idea of independent schools competing in a free market. The DfE will pump-prime these new schools but some never attract enough students to make them viable and the rug is pulled, sometimes very late in the day, as was the case with the Bradford Millennium school, where parents had even bought uniforms. Guess who had to find places for these youngsters at the last minute? That’s right, those dreadful local authorities.

And, of course, nothing in this world is free. Apart from the setting up costs, provided from central government (that is, out of general taxation) free schools will take their proportion of the money that would be available to the local authority for all local state schools but with no more pupils. So everyone loses out.