Chalk Talk: Free school statistics that may not quite add up
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Thursday 12 June 2014
An intriguing insight into the Government's flagship free schools policy was given last weekend at the Northern Rocks education conference in Leeds.
Laurie McInerney, a former London teacher who professes to be neither pro or anti free schools, urged caution when it comes to the Government's proclamations that they are doing better than existing state schools. These are based on just 56 inspection reports on free schools and compared with more than 20,000 on existing state schools.
Moreover, in saying that more free schools are being declared outstanding compared to the average under the new Ofsted inspection regime, it has to be borne in mind that existing schools are more likely to get a fresh inspection if they have previously been declared "inadequate" or "requires improvement".
Another intriguing finding is that none of the schools that have 20 per cent or more unqualified teaching staff are included among the 11 schools so far declared "outstanding".
That, I predict, will be widely seized upon by Labour and the Liberal Democrats who take issue with the decision by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, to allow such schools to recruit non-qualified staff.
In addition, four of those declared "outstanding" are members of multi-academy chains, leading her to suggest that this is the approach most likely to be adopted in future by free-school applications. The days of the parent-led approach to free schools seem numbered, she predicted.
Meanwhile, an insight of another kind emerged when the spat between Michael Gove and the Home Secretary, Theresa May, emerged into the open.
Newspaper stories are often based on quotes from "a source close to" the minister whom the story is about. In this case, Mr Gove was forced to admit to the Prime Minister that he in fact was the "source close to Gove".
Perhaps, in future, newspapers should say "a source that couldn't be closer to Gove (or whoever)". It removes the subterfuge without actually naming the person concerned.
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Search for plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore suspended overnight
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
- 5 UK weather: 'Coldest night of the year' tonight as freezing temperatures plummet to -10C
£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Operating throughout London and...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...
£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...