Teachers slam Tories free school expansion

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‘WE DO not want Free Schools, we want all Free Schools to be taken back under local authority,’ Tom Davies past president of Ealing National Union of Teachers (NUT) told News Line yesterday.

He was responding to Tory Education Secretary Nicky Morgan’s announcement yesterday that yet another 500 privately run Free Schools are to be built.

Tom Davies added: ‘We are totally against what they are doing which is selling off all the schools.

‘A third of the free schools so far have failed their Ofsted requirements.

‘The Tories want to sell everything off so that they have no responsibility. They are washing their hands of education. With the election they feel like they have a right of passage to do what ever they like.’

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: ‘Free Schools are compounding, not solving the school places crisis.’

‘The coalition government has diverted at least £637 million from the education budget to set up free schools which educate fewer than 22,000 pupils.

‘The Local Government Association says there could be 900,000 more pupils in state schools in England over the next decade and that £12bn will be needed to create sufficient school places for the growing primary population.

‘At the same time only 19% of the free school secondary places are in areas which need additional school places, thus creating spare school capacity where none is needed.

‘This is a waste of tax payers’ money.  It also results in huge pressures on established primary schools who, to cope with rising pupil numbers, are turning their dining halls, music rooms and playing fields into classrooms – to the detriment of a broad and balanced curriculum for the pupils who attend these schools.

‘Nor can any claim be properly made about the relative academic success, or otherwise, of free schools. In its most recent annual report Ofsted concluded that it is still too early to judge the overall performance of free schools and that “those inspected to date have a similar profile of inspection judgements to other schools and our inspections indicate that free schools succeed or fail for broadly the same reasons as all other types of school”.’