High cost of free schools: Education is damaged and cash wasted, says teaching union
A study by the National Union of Teachers found that Free Schools are hitting state schools by cherry picking the best pupils
The Coalition’s flagship Free School programme is damaging children’s education and wasting taxpayers’ money, a probe reveals today.
A study by the National Union of Teachers found that Free Schools are hitting state schools by cherry picking the best pupils.
And falling numbers at state schools means there are empty seats in many classrooms, with taxpayers picking up the tab at an annual cost of roughly £500 per place.
The NUT is taking legal advice on launching an appeal against Education Secretary Michael Gove’s refusal to publish impact assessments before he gives permission for Free Schools to be created.
Free Schools are set up by parents and other backers, and are run independently of local education authorities.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said Mr Gove was “playing fast and loose” with education and taxpayers’ cash.
She added: “The Government must be held to account for a policy that is not needed, wanted or understood.”
Delegates at the NUT’s annual conference in Torquay will debate Free Schools today.
The union’s study included Bolingbroke Academy, a Free School opening in September in Wandsworth, South West London.
There is a surplus of 1,287 places across the borough’s 11 secondary schools and the NUT says Free School funding, which comes directly from the Government, would be better spent tackling a massive shortage of primary school places.
We revealed in January how Bolingbroke would cherry-pick pupils but not accept those from a council estate – a decision the school’s fatcat backers were shamed into reversing.
The Department for Education says many Free Schools were set up by talented teachers and it is “disappointing” their work is being “overlooked by the NUT”.
Chris Keates, of the NASUWT teachers’ union, told its conference in Birmingham yesterday that prospects are bleak.
She said: “No wonder ministers are obsessed with children reading Dickens – they want them to be familiar with what they are about to relive.”