Education union comments on Free Schools report

By Agencies
July 4, 2019

The New Schools Network has published a report, Free schools: the next 10 years which makes seven recommendations for reform. NSN says: "A central plank of the proposed reforms would see more new sponsors being approved, including single school trusts and existing free schools. These new sponsors – including parent-led free schools – would come to the rescue of failing schools, where the Government has failed to attract a sponsor. 

"In total, 92 schools have, in effect, been abandoned and left without a sponsor – all of which have received the lowest possible Ofsted grade. In total, there are estimated to be more than 35,000 pupils spread across these failing schools. What’s more, 31 of these schools are 'untouchable' – having remained unsponsored for at least 12 months. This means more than 13,000 pupils have lost at least a year of their education."

Commenting on the report, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union said: “It is beyond parody that riding to the rescue of the free schools project should be the New Schools Network (NSN), a charity very largely dependent on DfE funding and which has been led since its creation by a succession of former Government staff and Conservative cronies. They need look no further than their Christmas card list for the causes of the problems they seek to solve.

“The fact that so many schools are ‘awaiting’ a sponsor and are effectively in limbo is a searing indictment of the dysfunctional academies and free schools policies which the NSN promotes. The ridiculous dogma that academisation is the answer needs to be abandoned. There is no evidence that academy sponsorship improves pupil outcomes and forced academisation is both disruptive and anti-democratic.

“We need a supportive and cooperative framework for school improvement, involving the local authority and neighbouring schools in full consultation with parents and staff. Parachuting in NSN approved groups to take over schools would be a recipe for disaster.”

* Read the report here

* New Schools Network https://www.newschoolsnetwork.org/

* National Education Union https://neu.org.uk/

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