Commenting on the announcement that 102 new free schools have been approved to open in England from next year onwards, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union said:
“There is no justification for the systematic dismantling of the English education system that we are currently witnessing. We cannot allow something as vital as a free and fair education for all to slip through our fingers unnoticed. The consequences will be extraordinarily damaging, never mind unmanageable
“Free schools are neither wanted by the majority nor needed by the system, as we have seen with the Beccles free school in Suffolk. They are wreaking havoc with co- ordinated pupil placement, creating surplus places and pitching schools against each other.
“Where there is a shortage of school places, as is the case, local authorities are best placed to assess and provide for that need. They, rather than unaccountable free school providers, should be given the resources to do so.
“Schools are desperately short of finances yet money is being found for schools which will educate tiny numbers of children. Any Secretary of State for Education and Prime Minister who genuinely cared about the education of all our children, would be seeking to ensure that all existing schools had buildings that were fit for purpose and the resources to provide the highest standards of education for all our children, not just the few.
“The Education Secretary is privatising our schools. He has made it clear that if the Conservatives win a second term, then they will be allowed to run these schools for a profit. This policy is in direct opposition to the Liberal Democrats who overwhelmingly backed a motion at their annual conference opposing free schools fearing they would increase ‘social divisiveness and inequity’.
“The NUT will continue to call for a public inquiry into this policy and demand that the Secretary of State publishes the impact assessments for all the free schools he has approved to date. This is a scandalous waste of public money.
For further details contact Caroline Cowie on 0207 380 4706 or 07879480061