Commenting on The Missing Middle, today’s report from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“It is getting to the point where no one but the Education Secretary believes that free schools are a sensible idea. Allowing free schools to open regardless of the concerns raised by local authorities, head teachers, governors and parents is irresponsible to say the least.
“Many free schools are opening at vast cost to the taxpayer in areas where there are already surplus school places. In others, the new free school will create surplus places leading to unnecessary competition and schools with many places unfilled. This makes no sense at a time when other schools are desperately crying out for funds to undertake routine maintenance and repairs following massive cuts to the capital budget for schools, and in some cases are having to fund maintenance work out of their teaching budgets.
“The report is right to highlight the need for more transparency over free schools. The NUT has consistently been calling for an inquiry into why approval of these schools, despite being funded by the taxpayer, is cloaked in secrecy.
“We are even seeing situations around the country where the two flagship policies of the Education Secretary, academies and free schools, are set against one another in a bid for pupils and funding. This is neither a coherent nor a workable way to organise the country’s education.
“We do not need to reinvent the wheel. Local authorities are the institutions best placed to oversee school place planning, admissions and funding as well as ensuring that all pupils have access to the support they need both now and in the future.
“Education should not be left to the vagaries of the open market. Communities, children, parents and teachers deserve to know that their schools are properly planned for places of education with secure funding, a qualified workforce and the support of the communities that they serve.”
For further information contact Caroline Cowie on 0207380 4706 or 07879480061