Friday, 16 November 2012

The unacceptable price of competition

On this blogsite we have consistently warned that a Free School in Walthamstow would inject more damaging competition into our local community. Because it would be outside local authority control, if succeeds, or if demand in the borough drops off (as the most recent projections indicate it might), we argue that the Free School would then start to damage other community schools. Anyone who read TheIndependent on Wednesday will have seen the shocking story of Harrowden Middle school, a school rated good by Ofsted, with outstanding features  which nonetheless faces closure because of the competition from local academies. The local authority does not control the academies so faced with a problem of having to close a school, it has to close one of the perfectly good schools it does control.
The general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, Russell Hobby was quoted saying: “With a more fragmented system, the ability to plan at a local level will disappear. Local authorities will only have limited influence on future planning - and they’re going to have to make more and more decisions like this. The competition between schools could lead to a whole level of weakened schools.”

This makes clear exactly what the proponents of a Free School are doing, despite their undoubtedly good intentions. They are unintentionally assisting in the creation of a chaotic market in schools that will further damage existing schools in the community.

There’s still time for those who signed up for a new school (did they sign up for a Free School?) to support the better option – sign our petition and call for our existing local schools to be allowed to expand to address the needs of our community’s children.

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