Monday 17 October 2011

A letter to Stephen Twigg about ‘Free’ schools

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Dear Stephen

 

I was genuinely shocked to read in national newspapers on Saturday 15th October that you were quoted as saying that you “back the setting up of free schools”

 

Two and a half weeks ago I spoke with others against free schools during the Labour Party Conference.  Not one delegate or shadow minister intimated that they were in favour.

 

Currently I and my fellow councillors across the country are attempting to defend good local authority schools from the daily attacks being launched by Michael Gove.  The free school movement is simply aimed at taking taxpayers money and funding schools which can select the children they educate with no accountability to the local community. They also can employ unqualified teachers.

 

On what basis do you have the authority to overturn Labour’s education policy without mentioning it at our recent conference?  Can I challenge you, rather than brief your local paper about this attempt to change Labour Party policy, you instead convene a conference for Labour members and see how far your views are supported by the Labour Party.

 

Your sincerely

 

Cllr Peter Walker

Cabinet member for Education, London Borough for Merton

Delegate to 2011 Labour Conference

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8 comments

  1. sarah dodds said:

    And when he does (!!), make sure I’m there…

    17 October 2011 at 4:35pm
  2. Tony Roome said:

    I look forward to seeing the response – if there is one.

    17 October 2011 at 6:42pm
  3. Rob Shorrock said:

    Worth looking at this:

    Twigg has just stated to Sky News that ‘There are very, very real concerns about the free schools policy, I share those concerns.’ Has he been sat on by the leadership?

    http://montrose42.wordpress.com/tag/stephen-twigg-on-free-schoolss/

    18 October 2011 at 10:43am
  4. Dave Hill said:

    You can not like Free Schools but you need a better argument than Cllr Walker of Merton. Free Scools do not and can not select. If this is the standard of argument and interlect of an elected Councillor then we are in trouble.

    Dave Hill

    25 October 2011 at 10:40pm
  5. Jane said:

    Dave Hill? ex Croydon education officer? If so, you will know that, even if technically academies (and, therefore, free schools) cannot select, in practice there are all sorts of ways in which they do so. Taking an example from Croydon, setting tests to “establish fair banding” at a time which would make it unlikely that families where both parents work to make ends meet are able to take their children. Offering places to those students at the top of each band or leaving spaces in top bands, rather than fill up from lower bands, etc. Wasn’t it in Croydon that one academy redefined its catchment area to exclude a council estate almost next door?

    All of these things have been happening with academies, why won’t they happen with “free” schools?

    25 October 2011 at 11:19pm
  6. andrea wilson said:

    Jane,

    All of these things have been happening in local authority schools across the country.
    They are not unique in academies and/or free schools. If anything academies and free schools have fairer and more transparent admissions than the majority of local authority run schools.

    Where I live community schools, where for example Fiona Miller is Chair of Governors, select a proportion of pupils on music aptitude to encourage self selection of good pupils. Many other (non academies) use banding.

    So what actually is your point ?

    26 October 2011 at 3:44pm
  7. andrea wilson said:

    Is Jane – Jane Eades by the way ?
    If so on a previous conversation you claimed to have taught mixed ability Maths up to “A” Level.
    An ex-Westminister teacher told me the record of achievement at your last school was awful – is this correct ?

    26 October 2011 at 3:46pm
  8. David Judge said:

    Councillor Walker is well known as a passionate opponent of free schools but I would love to hear his views on faith schools,which are also selective in which children they take and should not be supported by taxpayers’ money

    18 November 2011 at 5:12pm