Chalk Talk: More free schools won't necessarily mean more good schools
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 26 June 2014
Just a comment on the announcement of the next tranche of free schools by Education Secretary Michael Gove.
In revealing that an extra 38 schools had been approved, he said: "Free schools are giving thousands of children from ordinary backgrounds the kind of education previously reserved for the rich and lucky."
Ouch. His comment seems to fall into the category of "free schools good, all maintained schools bad" that has irked many people in the world of education in recent years. I doubt whether pupils who had been enrolled at New Discovery School in Crawley, West Sussex – which had to be closed because of poor standards – would agree with that. Or those at the Al-Madinah Academy in Derby, which is to stop educating secondary pupils after a damning Ofsted report.
Now, I am not an outright opponent of free schools – some of the proposals put forward have been highly imaginative and offered something that could not be obtained in the existing state sector. Witness the two bilingual free schools – one in German and the other in Spanish – that were opened as part of an earlier tranche of proposals.
But the idea that all of them offer the kind of education only previously available to the rich and lucky? I think not.
And now over to Sir Roderick Floud, former head of Universities UK – the body that represents vice-chancellors – and a former vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University. In an interview with the Times Higher Education magazine, he intimated that half the country's universities should close down, as part of a reform of the current "messy, muddled" higher education system.
On the face of it, it's a point of view with which he would find quite a few people are in agreement with. Until you discover that among those he says should be closing their doors to students are Oxford and Cambridge (which, he says, should then concentrate on research). I just cannot hear the clarion call for that out there in the sector (or the wider world).
It seems to me a case of "nurse, pass the salts, please" – and make sure Sir Rodney gets them as soon as possible.
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
Company decides to go for simply scary after criticising other sites for 'creepy and targeted' advertising
Footage shot by a passerby shows moment an ill man was carried out of his burning home
Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday
Sophia Loren: How I rejected Cary Grant and 'pulverised' Marlon Brando with my eyes
Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
'Russian submarine spotted' by Swedish military off coast of Stockholm
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Oscar Pistorius sentence: Athlete's wealth and notoriety provoke an overdue debate on South African prisons
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
- 1 Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
- 2 Star Wars memorabilia called a 'bit of plastic' on Antiques Roadshow by Fiona Bruce valued at £50,000
- 3 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 4 Russell Brand might seem like a sexy revolutionary worth getting behind, but he will only fail his fans
- 5 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
£80 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunity for Key Stag...
£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ma...
£110 - £130 per day + TBA: Randstad Education Reading: Geography Teacher neede...
£50 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Preston: This role has arisen due to inc...