Monday, 23 May 2011

The 'Free School' genie is out of the bottle...


I received a briefing note from Bradford Council's Strategic Director, Children's Services on the matter of academies and free schools. The note simply set out how the governance status of existing schools is changing - there will be at least 15 academies in the District soon - and listed the proposals for free schools (there are nine so far).

Now Bradford's a big place - getting on for half-a-million people - so these numbers still represent a minority of schools but, it seems to me that the advent of free schools and the simpler academy process represent a very profound change in the City's educational landscape. And I'm inclined to agree with Michael Gove on how important this agenda is to parents and children - the most profound and welcome change in education since the destruction of the grammar school system that started in the 1960s (a destruction that still continues today - as parents in Reading are discovering).

Add to this the significant changes in the management of admissions - allowing, in effect, successful schools to expand - we have a welcome shift away from the dominating monolith of the local education authority:

With pupil numbers determining school funding levels, ministers believe liberalising admissions policies will stymie what they view as attempts by local authorities to keep underperforming schools going by preventing popular schools taking on more pupils.

The genie is out of the bottle - and will start weaving the magic of freedom and choice around our schools. I for one am pleased.


1 comment:

Lysistrata said...

My granddaughter is currently under the Bradford education system. Or rather, she is no longer under it, as her ordinary working parents took the decision last year - against all their instincts - to pay extortionate amounts of money they can't afford to Bradford Girls' Grammar, rather than let this bright and polite well-behaved child suffer the local state secondary schools which they were offered - Daisy Hill area - (and whose OFSTED reports they studied, and which they visited). They would much rather she had attended a state school - and for social reasons, not for economic ones.
This revolution you report - if true - would be wonderful.