Free schools applications

25 Feb

Local people in East Anglia protest about the imposition of an unwanted 'free school' in their area
Local people in East Anglia protest about the imposition of an unwanted ‘free school’ in their area

Last week the Department for Education finally acceded to a number of Freedom of Information requests and published a full list of all proposals for new free schools it has received, including information about the proposed religious character of the schools, if stated.

The following is a list of proposals received for schools to be located within Newham:

  • Beckton Independent Grammar School
  • Britannia Village All Through School
  • Eastside Young Leaders Academy Free School
  • Little Petals
  • Living Word Academy (Free Church Pentecostal)
  • Jasper City School (Christian)
  • London Academy of Excellence
  • Newham Free Academy
  • Newham School 21
  • Newham College of Further Education

The council has a somewhat ambiguous attitude to free schools. On the one hand, the Labour party is opposed to them and councillor John Gray seconded a motion at the recent London Labour conference to that effect. On the other hand, the mayor has granted a lease on the former offices of the education department in Stratford to the London Academy of Excellence on very generous terms, including the first year rent-free.

I am governor of a Newham school and I am personally opposed to the coalition government’s schools policy. Free schools are an ideological experiment that is diverting resources away from existing schools, whilst academies represent an unprecedented centralisation of control, removing local authorities from their proper place in managing local provision. Giving public money to fringe sects (of whatever religion) to set up new ‘faith schools’ is a recipe for division and disaster. We need our young people to be educated together, side by side, not separated off into sectarian and confessional ghettoes.

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