Parents of children in free schools prefer council input

As we’re all aware, free schools and academies are outside of Local Authority control and do not have to follow the National Curriculum, despite being assessed against it.

It would seem that parents who send their children to free schools would like to have council input. A huge majority of parents who send their children to free schools in London believe the schools should be subject to greater oversight, according to a YouGov opinion poll.

The survey found that 91% of parents with a child at a free school think local authorities have a key role in ensuring high standards. Free schools may be set up by parents or private companies, and are state-funded but outside local authority control.

The poll indicated widespread support for local authorities: 78% of parents praised the council-run school admissions process as “easy”. It comes amid controversy over free schools, which were thrust into the spotlight last month when Derby’s Al-Madinah school was called dysfunctional by Ofsted and threatened with closure.

A row has erupted over a proposed free school in Islington, London, on a site earmarked for social housing. Nick Ward, a teacher at Bethnal Green Academy, said: “Islington does not need a school run by a private consortium, taking resources from well-performing local schools, without the control of local democracy and staffed by potentially unqualified teachers, but it does need more social housing.”

This to me sounds like parents don’t believe free schools to be as all singing all dancing as Michael Gove is hoping. Local Authority supervision is important as it allows close monitoring of performance of these institutions and bring support to schools not making the mark. Those who read my blog on my take on academies (https://markmelaney.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/academies-my-take/) will know that without LA present, support can and often is very limited or indeed non-existent, exposing these schools to closure, which will affect the parents in terms of finding a new school for their child in an area with limited places. It is understandable knowing this why parents would want the LA supervising.

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