The one free school that really deserves a chance

Chalk talk

Alas! The results have come through of a review into the Government's decision to turn down a plan for a free school in south London to wean young people away from gang culture, and it has still failed to get off the drawing board.

The plan, hatched by two south London teachers, was to guarantee all school leavers three months of work experience in their chosen trade or profession to stop them going straight from school out into the streets. A range of occupations had already come forward to lend their support for the school, which would have been known as Diaspora High school in Lewisham.

However, it still failed on the same grounds that the original assessors of the scheme found fault with – namely that it could not satisfy the requirement that it should be able to guarantee to fill 50 per cent of its places for the first two years. It had 110 parents signed up for the first year for 120 places, but did not have the figures for the second year, although potential applications were coming through at more than a trickle.

I am not going to set myself up as saying I know better than the civil servants at the Department for Education. What I would say, though, is that an enterprise offering this kind of help to disillusioned, disadvantaged youngsters, which tackles the root cause of some of the violence we have witnessed on our inner city streets, should be included in the second tranche of free school proposals to be announced by Education Secretary Michael Gove in the next month or so.

I have visited a number of the free schools set up this September and found that many of the parents who were sending their children to them had chosen them as an alternative to private education. I am not opposed to that, believing as I do that it is welcome that they have turned their backs on the private sector and returned to the state fold. What it does show, though, is that they have probably come from fairly affluent backgrounds, and the free school movement should be about more than just aiding that sector of society.

So come on, Mr Gove, let us see something akin to what Diaspora was offering potential young tearaways in your next tranche of proposals.

Many surveys of language provision in the UK have come to the conclusion that we are the language dunces of Europe because of the dearth of young people who take the subject up at school. Now there is a competition to prove that this moniker is wrong. Launched by Collins and Livemocha, it aims to find the most multilingual child and student in Britain. Last year's adult winner spoke a staggering 33 languages. www.collinsmost multilingual.com.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Imperial College London: Safety Training Administrator

£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...

University College London: Client Platform Support Officer

£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...

Guru Careers: Instructional Designer / e-Learning Designer

£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...

Recruitment Genius: Schools Education & Careers Executive

£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor