FREE SCHOOLS were presented as an opportunity for local communities to get the education they need from their local schools.
With black children still lagging behind in education, could these new schools represent an opportunity to close the gap?
I’m answering with a ‘yes’ based on one principle: there is a difference between theory and practice. It is without doubt the current free schools system has spectacularly failed minority communities as well as religious and economic groups.
But should we disregard the concept altogether?
The ideological basis of free schools is in self-representation. If certain communities are being failed by the state system then why shouldn’t communities be allowed to represent themselves?
Whilst the current free schools system has offered up nothing but shameful results for the BME (black and minority ethnic) community, it is important to remember the former state school structure left much to be desired for this same group. If certain members of a community seek to fix a problem, and enough of their own people support them, is it right to bar them?
To prevent them their own agency?
The criticism levied against the current system, centres upon the despicable government-sanctioned loopholes that have allowed discrimination into the schools. But with adequate monitoring, adherence to national law, growth and improvement, would the very nature of free schools be grotesque?
In my opinion the current government seeks to use free schools as a weapon to destabilise a service that is our right, based on an archaic and privileged social view that favours competition with an almost religious fervour. It is why, at present I will fight for state schools. If we make the state school system the best it can be, we could even eliminate the need for free schools altogether. But the want of free schools, the right to them?
Within reason, communities should be entitled to their autonomy and in the right hands, by the right government, could free schools in the future be the answer for black parents?
I don’t see why not.
For a scheme masking what is effectively a last-ditch effort to stop the dismal failures of the UK education system towards black children, there is little evidence that free schools have improved prospects for these “underachievers”.
From recent reports, the few black parents that know about these alternative schools are as displeased with them as I am.
The plan for free schools, according to the Conservatives, was to “create more local competition and drive-up standards”.
Some claim that being unshackled from local authorities means communities can collectively set up schools to provide the kind of teaching they want to see. You’d have to hope so, considering they’re still funded by taxpayers, so about as ‘free’ as your choice of school-run transportation.
But it’s no exaggeration to say that the programme is yet another attractive-sounding Govian policy that has turned out to be a state-approved way of doing less with less. A staggering number of these institutions are not only failing the black community, but all minority communities.
There is evidence that free schools are failing to demonstrate awareness of the Equality Act 2010 or comply to the Public Sector Equality Duty – compulsory guidelines intended to eliminate all forms of discrimination and advance equal opportunities for citizens.
It also seems that black parents trying to set up free schools are finding the going tough and that black pupils often find themselves barred entrance to these schools which reduce the money available to be spent on the other schools in an area.
Free schools were expected to open new opportunities for BME communities. But if the vast majority can’t even share accurate examples of engagement, how can black parents put their trust in them?
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