Free schools are dangerous ideological experiment, says Tristram Hunt

The new shadow education secretary tells Michael Gove free schools are out of control after the row over the al-Madinah school in Derby. This is from the Guardian

A new generation of free schools pioneered by Michael Gove has turned into a “dangerous ideological experiment” that has run out of control in light of the row over al-Madinah school in Derby, Tristram Hunt has warned.

The new shadow education secretary has written to Gove on the eve of an Ofsted report about the Islamic faith free school, which faces the threat of closure after it was accused of forcing female teachers to wear headscarves. There were also reports that it segregated pupils…

Hunt believes al-Madinah highlights one of the central flaws in Gove’s free schools initiative – that there is minimal oversight.

In his letter to Gove, Hunt writes: “I know that you will be concerned as I am that one of your free schools has failed to provide the quality of education we should expect for our children. In this school, as well as others across the country, your policy is being exposed as a dangerous ideological experiment which has been allowed to run completely out of control.”

Hunt said over the weekend that he supported the right of parents, teachers and social entrepreneurs to set up schools. But he said Labour’s parent-led academies would be different in three key respects: the new academies would open only in areas where there was a shortage of school places; they would have to employ properly qualified teachers; and there would be proper systems of financial accountability and transparency…

In his letter, Hunt says: “Given that prior to the opening of al-Madinah free school you received a number of warnings from Ofsted regarding potential issues with the welfare, health and safety of pupils, what steps were taken to ensure that these warnings were heeded and that all issues were resolved before the school opened?

“Given that a senior Department for Education spokesman was quoted over the weekend as suggesting that you ‘always said some free schools would fail’, can you please explain how you will provide parents with a firm guarantee that their children’s education and safety is not being put at risk due to the inadequate oversight of your free schools programme?

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Valid concerns or opportunism from @TristramHuntMP? Please let us know what you think in the comments or on twitter… 

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Comments

  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Hunt just making himself known to Gove. He also stated that he’d support free schools where same problems will arise

  2. artmadnana

    SchoolsImprove Gosh I’m surprised when his own ideas about Academies are so pro Goviet. Produce an alternative solution!

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