'Free schools' likely to remain tiny minority

05 Sep 2010

 Michael Gove tried to sound upbeat about his prediction that some 16 'free' schools will open over the coming year.

Opponents have rightly pointed out that this falls far short of the earlier rhetoric. It also raises serious questions about the programmes that have been cut to release money for this experimental policy. 

However, I think we should be grateful that this  project is starting on a small scale. It means that by the end of this government's first term, 'free' schools will continue to be a tiny minority of the total, not unlike the City Technology College experiment of the late 1980s.

If they prove their worth, then it may be worthwhile building on the experiment -- if not, it can be quietly dropped without too much damage to the system.  


User Comments

Iftikhar Ahmad - 05 Sep 2010

Free Schools

It is wrong to assert that a small unrepresentative group of Muslim activists tried to islamicise a state primary school in Woking. The silent majority of Muslim parents would like to send their children to state funded Muslim schools. They are not extremists who want to change of ethos of those schools where Muslim children are in majority. It is the democratic right of every Muslim parent to see that their children receive balanced education, so that when their children grow up, they do not find themselves cut off from their cultural roots and linguistic skills. It is a question of common sense, humanity and reason that bilingual Muslim children must be educated in state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. The whole world believes that people who speak more than one language is a vital economic asset. Pupils who speak more than one language do not cause difficulties. It is the politicians and monolingual teachers who are the problems for bilingual pupils. Muslim school will help to cultivate the child into a healthy, fully flourishing individual with a passion for learning. There are hundreds of state and church schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be opted out as Muslim Academies.

Muslim schools are not only faith schools; they are more or less bilingual schools. Bilingual Muslim children need to learn and be well versed in Standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. State schools with monolingual teachers do not teach Standard English to Migrant children. Bilingual Muslim children learn English in the playgrounds and in the streets. They speak street language with its own grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. The teachers let them speak the same accent in the classroom. They have no courage to stop them or correct them. This is one of the main reasons why one third of children have difficulties with reading when they leave primary schools. Majority of such children are Muslims. In other European countries and in the sub-continent argot and slang are not allowed into the classroom. In Britain primary school teachers do not feel that it’s their role to interfere with self-expression in any shape or form. They encourage children to read poems and stories written in ethnic dialects.

The law clearly states that free schools will receive 100% funding while faith schools will only receive 50% funding. This is discrimination. I think other faith groups will find it objectionable and discriminatory. In my opinion, Faith schools should receive 100% funding like other free schools. Muslim faith schools are more or less bilingual schools. Priority will be give to the teaching of Standard English, Arabic, Urdu and other community languages. All Muslim children will learn and be well versed in Standard English and Quranic Arabic and at the same time they will learn and be well versed in one of the community language to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry. Majority of children will learn Urdu language because it is a lingua franca of the migrants from the sub-continent. And majority of British Muslims are from Pakistan and their national language is Urdu.
Iftikhar Ahmad

matt - 06 Sep 2010

Free schools

In response to Iftikhar Ahmad: You cannot expect the goverment to fund the extra curriculum at faith schools. If the school just did standard subjects, I would agree. But you have extra curriculum needs, so need more teachers and more resources.

(This blog comment has been edited)

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