THE NEW president of West Sussex Teachers’ Association (WSTA) has slammed the ‘car boot sale’ approach to education exemplified by academies and free schools.
Mark Sandell addressing the WSTA annual general meeting said that while the county council is seeking to privatise schools, parents, teachers and local communities are resisting yet ‘local authorities have gone ahead regardless in a travesty of local democracy’.
The County Times revealed plans for a free school in Southwater last year, and last month Horsham MP Francis Maude publicly stated in this paper his and the county council’s support for academies and free schools.
James Ellis, Schools Organiser for UNISON West Sussex said that she welcomed the decision of Oasis and Horsham Churches Together not pursue the development ‘in the face of massive local opposition’.
She said: “We join the headteachers in local schools in questioning the need for a new free school and demand that any future consultation is inclusive of all local stakeholders.”
The Secretary of State for Education has identified more than two hundred primaries across England that he intends to turn into academies as well as nine or ten local authorities with ‘unacceptable high numbers of under-performing primaries’ but very few schools in West Sussex have gone down this route.
Dave Thomas, secretary of West Sussex Teachers Association (NUT) has spoken of ‘the true nature of so called ‘free’ schools’.
He said: “The sponsors wish to be free from obligations to consult properly with local schools, their headteachers and the local authority. This is not planning for the educational needs of the community. Parents and teachers are right to oppose this, and other, ‘free’ schools.”
West Sussex UNISON branch secretary, Chris Earwaker, said that there is ‘clearly no appetite for a free school in Southwater’ because ‘there is no evidence that free schools or academies improve educational standards’.