Burnham targets free schools

The Times is reporting that Andy Burnham has put the free school network ‘on notice’ as he promised to give local authorities the power to decide which pupils attend.

In what the paper describes as “a move designed to reassure Labour traditionalists”, it suggests that Mr Burnham has proposed a change in admissions that it believes will eventually turn free schools back into comprehensives by removes a key element of their independence.

Andy Burnham’s campaign team is quoted:

“What one school does on admissions affects all schools and pupils in a local community. It is wrong that there is no accountability for free schools and academies to that community… This is not about Westminster imposing an approach, it is about giving local communities the power to decide on vital issues like admissions policies for local schools…”

In Mr Burnham’s manifesto, the specific phrase used is:

“I will restore a local role in overseeing schools, rejecting the growing market of free schools and academies.”

More at: Burnham targets free schools (subscription may be required)


See also Andy Burnham pledges to scrap tuition fees


I’m not sure it is actually clear what Andy Burnham is proposing in terms of free schools and academies, but it seems to be a more aggressive line against the current status quo than was adopted by Labour of the recent election.

Of course, if and when he ever becomes Prime Minister there will be an awful lot of schools outside of local authority control – will it be either feasible or sensible to try and change the whole system again at that stage?

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Categories: Academies, Free Schools, Local authorities and Policy.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Political hot air from andyburnhammp who won’t necessarily win UKLabour leadership & won’t be able to influence admissions

  2. MadgeJesss

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove andyburnhammp UKLabour If anyone ever takes on task of unpicking the schools chaos it will take many years.

  3. andylutwyche

    MadgeJesss SchoolsImprove andyburnhammp UKLabour Correct – all parties culpable in creating the current situation

  4. TW

    Typical Blairite message of ‘I’ll pretend I might do what my supporters want but then I’ll more or less copy Tory policy except for making it even worse’.

  5. Don’t know which is more desperate – Burnham’s limp policy (see Laura McInerney’s aticle in Schools Week linked by 5n_Afzal) or the Times’ reporting of it.  Doesn’t the Times know free schools are all-ability schools as are most academies (except those which were previously grammars)?  It would be a bit difficult, then, to turn all-ability schools into, er, all-ability schools.
    That said, there is a serious problem of academies/free schools manipulating their admission criteria to deter particular pupils.  It’s this which needs tackling – and Burnham should have said so.

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