Accord urges safeguards as over 100 Free School applications are approved

May 22, 2013

crayon-rainbowThe Department for Education has announced today that a further 102 Free Schools will open in England in 2014 and beyond, 25 of which will have a faith ethos or be designated as having a religious character. There are already 81 Free Schools, while before today another 109 had already been approved to open.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE said, ‘As the Government promotes the diversity of provision of state funded schools through the Free Schools programme, it  should also ensure more oversight, not less, to help make certain that new freedoms are not abused. However, Accord is concerned that many safeguards have been taken away, which we consider particularly unwise when untested education providers are entering the state funded sector, and we advocates that a range of reforms be made.’

‘These include ensuring that:
1. All state funded schools are again inspected upon how effectively they promote community cohesion;
2. There is greater oversight of local school admission arrangements to ensure they are fair and sound;
3. Guidance is produced to ensure that all state funded schools, including Free Schools, teach Religious Education that it broad, balanced and objective.

‘It is vital that pupils receive an education that offers them a pathway to better citizenship and a proper understanding of one’s neighbour in today’s multi-belief Britain. Schools should be engines rooms of cohesiveness and mutual understanding, providing their pupils with a broad curriculum, where their horizons are widened, not blinkered. There is a risk that Free Schools may help in compounding the problem of social division – by giving the schools more power to do their own thing, but ignore the greater good, such as in admissions and the curriculum. We do not want schools to be inward-looking and self-serving.’

Notes

Over the three years several major safeguards have been removed by Government. Schools rated as “outstanding” have been freed from automatic OFSTED inspection and have had any application to become an Academy school fast tracked, meaning that the frequency of inspection has been reduced at many of the same schools being given greater powers and freedom.

Meanwhile, the 2011 Education Act resulted in state funded schools in England no longer being inspected by OFSTED upon their effectiveness at promoting community cohesion. In addition, the Act has meant that local authorities no longer have to organise school admission forums, which among other functions, help ensure that admission policies in a local area are fair and adhere to the School Admissions Code. Schools within the Academy sector have also been accused of failing to abide by relevant laws with regard to permanent exclusions.

One Response to Accord urges safeguards as over 100 Free School applications are approved

  1. estefany urena on August 31, 2013 at 2:49 am

    I am interested becoming a school guard

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