Good­bye, free schools

The Daily Telegraph - - Letters To The Editor -

SIR – The Prime Min­is­ter’s ap­par­ent climb-down on gram­mar school ex­pan­sion will be wel­come news to the many non-selec­tive com­pre­hen­sives and acad­e­mies in Lon­don whose re­cent up­ward tra­jec­tory could have been halted by the pol­icy.

Another omis­sion which is good news for both the state and in­de­pen­dent sec­tors is the man­i­festo pledge that re­quired in­de­pen­dent schools to spon­sor acad­e­mies and free schools as a con­di­tion of re­tain­ing their char­i­ta­ble sta­tus.

Its omis­sion is wel­come not be­cause in­de­pen­dent schools do not want to sup­port the state sec­tor but be­cause it was, in ef­fect, a dik­tat which re­quired heads to bol­ster a Con­ser­va­tive Party political ini­tia­tive of du­bi­ous merit – namely free schools.

I know of no in­de­pen­dent head teacher who would dis­pute the propo­si­tion that we should be do­ing more to sup­port the state sec­tor. But it is an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent mat­ter to at­tempt to strong-arm us into sup­port­ing a par­tic­u­lar cat­e­gory of state school, some of which come across as big on ide­al­ism and short on due dili­gence.

Like most in­de­pen­dent schools, Colfe’s has nu­mer­ous part­ner­ships with lo­cal state schools that make a real dif­fer­ence to the lives of pupils.

Ac­cord­ing to the Tory man­i­festo pledge, how­ever, this sup­port would count for noth­ing be­cause none of our part­ner schools, such as Dept­ford Green, Con­is­bor­ough Col­lege and Trin­ity, Lewisham, are acad­e­mies or free schools.

To us, their sta­tus is ir­rel­e­vant, but in each case we re­spect ab­so­lutely the de­ci­sion that the schools’ gover­nors have made to re­main as tra­di­tional com­pre­hen­sives, an­swer­able to the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties which they serve. Richard Rus­sell

Head­mas­ter, Colfe’s School Lon­don SE12

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