Free School

This page is for information relating to the proposal to meet the shortage of school place in Brighton and Hove by creating a Free School.

University of Brighton Academy Trust gets approval for a Free School in Brighton and Hove.

View our latest blog post here

DO WE NEED A NEW FREE SCHOOL IN BRIGHTON & HOVE? WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS?

The research team at the Campaign for Education have been busy looking at the data and the legislation. They conclude that there are viable alternative options – that could be much better than the free school option. Read the article here: Do we need a new free school in the city?
LISTEN TO THE DEBATE ON A RADIO BROADCAST

UCU and NUT reps Nadia Edmond and Paul Shellard were recently interviewed on Radio Free Brighton by Davy Jones about the University of Brighton Free School Proposal.  You can listen to the interview here

LETTER SENT TO SCHOOL GOVERNORS

Here’s the text of a letter sent to the Chairs of all School Governing Bodies in the city:

I’m sure you know that the city needs to consider how to create more secondary school places to meet rising demand. Some local authorities are providing more school places by building satellite centres to existing schools (examples here and here). This is entirely acceptable to the Department for Education – see paragraph 7 of the DfE’s guidance on School Organisation.  The Local Government Association has also published case studies. This document suggests that demand can be met through school expansions and the creation of annexes to existing successful schools or through the creation of new schools that, currently, usually have to be academies or free schools. While the creation of free schools can be the easiest option there is some consensus that they are not necessarily the best option and page 15 of the Local Government Association document confirms that this was Brighton & Hove City Council’s position. However, the Council now seems to have abandoned its preferred option in favour of asking a very new Academies Trust, with no experience of running schools in the city, to establish a free school in the city. Generally, if a Council proposes a new school for their area, the DfE requires the Council to carry out a full consultation and impact assessment. This did not happen in Brighton & Hove but a public consultation on how to meet the need for more secondary school places in the city has now been organised for Thursday June 18th at 7pm at the Brighthelm Centre. Local MPs and councillors, the Academies Trust, a head teacher, the NUT and the university lecturers union (UCU) are expected to speak at the meeting. Invitations to the meeting have been sent to every head teacher in the city and to teachers and others. I think it essential that all school governors are aware of this important consultation and able to decide if they wish to attend and express their views.

A STATEMENT FROM THE TEACHERS AND LECTURERS

Teachers and lecturers in Brighton (the very people the Government keep telling us are best placed to run schools free from external interference) believe that before parents make up their mind on the need or otherwise for a free school in the city they might want to consider a number of questions. No one disputes that more secondary school places are needed in the city but the question is: should we be finding ways of providing more places in existing schools or opening a new Free School? The funding is there and alternative options exist. Free Schools are unpopular: You Gov found only 25% support for the creation of new Free Schools; many have concluded Free Schools are socially divisive; they drain funds from education budgets that are available for all schools and the Public Accounts Committee concluded that ‘the … oversight arrangements for Free Schools are not yet working … to ensure… public money is used properly’. Take a look at the statement from the unions representing teachers and lecturers (the NUT and the UCU): https://anewschoolforbrighton.wordpress.com/

PETITION FOR MORE ACCOUNTABLE AND INCLUSIVE LOCAL AUTHORITY SCHOOL PLACE

If you want to support the call for more accountable and inclusive local authority places instead of a Free School in Brighton – please sign the petition: https://www.change.org/p/brighton-and-hove-city-council-university-of-brighton-academy-trust-create-new-secondary-school-places-for-brighton-within-local-democratic-accountability

And see the letter here from Campaign member Dave Sang, published in the Argus on Monday 27 April.

NATIONAL ARTICLES ON FREE SCHOOLS

A piece from the Local Schools Network: here

A bulletin from the Anti Academies Alliance: here

WHY DO SOME UNIVERSITIES WANT TO SET UP TRUSTS TO SPONSOR ACADEMIES?

Why are some universities willing to support some schools to leave their local authorities and become academies? Why do university trusts want to privilege and work especially closely with schools in competition with other local schools? Are there reputational and financial risk to universities and educational risks to the pattern of local education and partnerships between schools? Do these new arrangements undermine the ability of universities to carry our independent research into government policy? Are these arrangements democratically accountable to local communities or in the public interest? This guest post by Nadia Edmond and Aidan Pettitt begins to discuss some of these questions of particular relevance locally given the recent press reports of the University of Brighton proposal to open a free school in Brighton Continue reading

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