On the front page of today’s Times it says ministers are thinking of scrapping the free schools policy in order to give more money to schools. I hope it’s not true. Not only would it constitute a terrible loss of self-confidence on the Government’s part and confirm the narrative that the Conservatives are enacting Labour’s manifesto rather than their own. It would also be a betrayal of the thousands of people who’ve set up free schools and are in the process of setting them up. We have taken on the educational establishment and put our necks on the line at the behest of successive Conservative Education Secretaries. Are they really going to abandon us now?
It would be particularly insane to throw the policy out the window at this point as it is just beginning to bear fruit. Free schools are more likely to be rated Outstanding by Ofsted than council-run schools, more popular with parents and getting better results. To give just one example, the King’s College London Mathematics School, a free school in Kennington, topped a new league table published last week showing A level results in STEM subjects. (To read more, click here.)