Goodbye, free schools
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