The TES is reporting that the new head of the government’s free schools and academies programme has admitted scrutiny of new free school plans has not been good enough in the past…
Frank Green, who was appointed national schools commissioner at the Department for Education earlier this year, made the admission when asked why so many free schools were being set up in areas with large numbers of surplus places.
“A few years ago, in order to launch the programme, the scrutiny process was perhaps not as strong as it should have been,” Mr Green conceded at a Westminster Education Forum event.
He was responding to concerns about surplus places raised by Jan Tallis, chair of governors at Forest Gate Community School in East London.
“In London we’ve also got huge squeezes in certain areas where, you know, kids can’t go to school,” she said. “Yet down the road, where it’s completely not needed, we’ve got free schools opening without adequate facilities. And it just does seem a little bit bonkers.”
…Mr Green said 80 per cent of “new” free schools were now in areas of basic need.
When asked about Trinity Academy, a free school that opened on an £18 million site in Brixton, South London, this term with just 17 pupils, he noted that it had been approved “two or three years ago”.
He told TES: “That would be unlikely to happen now because the criteria [for opening free schools] are much more rigorous in terms of the two requirements – that there is a basic need or that there is weakness or there is not outstanding performance in that area.”
Asked whether those criteria had been in place in the past, he said: “Before my time…”
Frank green is suggesting the process has been strengthened from that which led to some of the free schools that have already launched, or are launching now, do you agree? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…
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