Row over free school admission plan

Parents who help to set up free schools could be given guaranteed places for their children under reforms to the admissions code being considered by ministers.









If implemented, the move is likely to be seen as a U-turn by the Government as both officials and ministers have previously said that free schools will have to abide by the admissions code in the same way as other state schools.



Union leaders and campaign groups today warned that such a change could lead to middle-class parents setting up schools so their child does not have to mix with "the great unwashed."



A spokesman for the Department for Education said the proposals were at an early stage, but added that ministers feel it is "right and common sense that people who invest a lot of time in setting up a school should have priority for their children."



He added: "There are no decisions yet - but we've been looking carefully at the mechanics of how this would work - who it would apply to, when it would start, the effect on small schools."



But Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) told the Times Educational Supplement, who first reported the proposal, that the move "makes a mockery" of Education Secretary Michael Gove's claim that free schools will be for everybody.



"It completely paves the way for pushy, middle-class parents to set up a school so their children don't have to go to the same school as the great unwashed," she said.



"It makes a mockery of the idea that free schools are for all. They are not for everybody - we know they are disproportionately in the less deprived communities, where these schools are not needed."



Author and journalist Toby Young, who is the first to have been granted approval to open a free school, the West London Free School, in September, has said that without changes to the admissions rules his own children may not get a place.



"If they do change it, it will be politically contentious," Mr Young told the TES.



"But I don't think members of the public would think it unfair unless the numbers were particularly high."



Under the admissions code, schools cannot choose their pupils, but have to adhere to strict guidelines, designed to given every child a fair chance of a place. It was understood that this would apply to free schools as well.



Information on free schools, published on the DfE's website says: "Like academies, free schools will be bound by the same admissions code that governs all publicly funded schools. Each free school will need to have a fair and transparent admission policy, and will need to provide places for pupils of different abilities who are wholly or mainly drawn from the area in which the school is situated."



Free schools will not be allowed to be selective, it adds.



In response to an urgent question on free schools last June, Mr Gove said: "I intend to ensure that all free schools and all academies continue to abide by the existing admissions code, that all schools that are currently comprehensive remain comprehensive, and that schools are as inclusive as possible."



Ministers have already revealed plans for a slimmed down, simpler admissions code, and it is expected that a consultation on the reforms will be launched within the next few weeks.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
science
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: We are currently looking for a Geog...

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links