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.
East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
Children take eight Isis captives to be beheaded in latest propaganda video
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Yorkshire man to win £10,000 off a £1 bet placed six years ago if Dan Jarvis becomes Labour Party leader
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 4 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 5 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...
£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...
£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...
£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...