Letter from General Secretary to TES about free schools
"In fear of the Gove delusion": TESletters, 6 August 2010
Full text of original letter sent on 30 July 2010.
"Religion-free schools" (TES, 30 July 2010) is the type of story that confirms my fears about ‘free’ schools. I have nothing against the eminent Professor Dawkins personally, but before and during the election campaign, the emphasis was on parents setting up ‘free’ schools. Now that has changed to "groups". I am concerned about schools being set up by those who wish to promote a particular promoting a philosophy – be that atheist, religious, creationist, political or financial. Providing high quality education may not be their priority.
My union also has concerns about the impact of ‘free schools’ in terms of their long-term funding and viability and their potential effects on other schools. With our public services facing savage cuts, can the country afford free schools? They would need an injection of new money and create surplus places in existing schools.
A buffet approach to education provision risks causing chaos and confusion – for parents, admissions policies, infrastructure planning, employers, staff recruitment and retention.
Importing an idea from a country with a different education system and social attitudes and trying to make it fit here is a risky ideological experiment that could potentially damage children’s education if it fails.
General Secretary, Philip Parkin
Communications Officer (Voice Press Office), Richard Fraser