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Proposed East Sussex Free School

On 10 Jan 2012 at 11:54pm Kathy wrote:
A group of parents and teachers is planning to open a Free School in East Sussex. It will be an independent state-funded secondary school, with a strong emphasis on languages, science and technology, and a sixth form for A lewels. Admission will not be selective so anyone can apply. It will offer a more traditional approach, with small classes. It will also be open longer, both before and after school, to help working parents. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but anyone interested can visit their website.

Check it out here »
On 11 Jan 2012 at 2:13am Dingo wrote:
What`s wrong with the existing schools in East Sussex? Why can`t they have smaller class sizes?How much will be taken from the existing schools budget to pay for Gauleiter Gove`s vanity projects?
On 11 Jan 2012 at 6:59am Paul Newman wrote:
Dingo between 97 - 98 spending on education increased from £38 billion to £73 billion which,adjusted,is 68% up. It went from 4.6% of GDP to 5.75% during am unsustainable asset bubble. In addition to that a further £40 billion has come on line in the form of PFI projects. In that time the number of NEETS has risen and the OECD concluded that no real progress whatsoever had been made.
The existing regime is indefensible, unless you are a member of the NUT and don`t care as long as you get your pension.
On 11 Jan 2012 at 8:02am Deelite wrote:
The link above is broken at the moment. It is www.eastsussexfreeschool.org.uk

The provision of education in the UK is becoming ever more confused and bewildering! Free Schools owe their existence solely to the Tories political desire to reduce the control of the local authority, starve the local authority schools of funds and re-introduce the grammar school system by the back door (thus avoiding a national debate).

A Free School does not have to hire qualified teachers or adhere to the national curriculum. A Free School can teach Creationalism as fact, or indeed any push any whacky air-head or religeous "faith-based" philosophy (even push Homeopathy as scientifically proven!). Personally I very much resent my taxes being used for schools outside of local authority control. I trust the local authority. They are accountable to me, a citizen and voter. Religious groups, businesses and any groups with their own personal agenda or axe to grind are not... AND I SHOULD NOT BE FORCED TO FINANCE THEM.

The aims of this proposed Eastbourne based Free School as stated on their web site only differ in one respect from the aims of our state schools, the inclusion of a sixth form. They obviously don't realise that many schools don't have sixth forms as the demand for them amongst pupils has steadily diminished! They state "traditional education" as am aim. Does Chailey school not practice 'traditional education' then?

Dig deeper and it's highly probable you'll find that the founders of this school have other aims and interests too controversial to admit to when applying for free school funding and status. What is it's policy on religion, selection? The web site does not list the people who are pushing the creation of this school, their interests, affiliations and businesses. It ought to, just to gain a little credence and trust.
On 11 Jan 2012 at 8:28am DFL wrote:
Let's be clear about a few things :-
1. We MUST provide education to our kids, and the more money we spend on education the better.
2. We DO need to control the financing of education, but the current system seems to be all over the place.
3. We DO need to quality check our education delivery, but the current system is also all to hell and cumbersome.
4. There's nothing wrong with grammar schools as long as their financing is not detrimental to the mainstream education services.
5. Free schools should be funded by them that want to attend, NOT the tax payer.
6. Founders of free schools obviously have a reason to do so, and I suspect that education isn't necessarily on the top of the agenda.
7. Religious state-based schools should be banned. If you want religion, go to a privately funded school.
On 11 Jan 2012 at 9:30am Zebedee wrote:
Apart from 7 hard not to agree with DFL. Deelite is also spot on. Does anyone know exactly who are the drivers and funders behind this misguided and ill-judged attempt to use taxpayers money to shove their mistaken beliefs down the throats of our poor, innocent children? :-)
On 11 Jan 2012 at 10:34am Southover Queen wrote:
As usual, Paul's contribution gives us ideology rather than any sensible argument for the establishment of yet another layer in education. The gist seems to be that we're spending too much on education. It doesn't explain how free schools are going to address that.

I agree with Deelite and DFL, except perhaps her no 7. Not because I want any child indoctrinated with mumbo jumbo but because by all accounts some of the old established religious schools offer an excellent education and it would be a shame to cast them adrift. The newer evangelical creationist offerings should be banished, as indeed should any religious school based on the notion that theirs is the only way and that there's a supernatural being who knows better than us.
I don't have school age children but if I did I would be terminally confused. As a Lewes resident I'd also be wildly grateful that actually the state offerings here are generally excellent; frankly if it ain't broke don't fix it. If this free school ends up taking money out of the Lewes system I'd be steaming mad.
On 11 Jan 2012 at 10:42am SHS wrote:
1. "It will encourage, motivate and where needed, push pupils to their very best attainment."
2. "with a strong emphasis on languages, science and technology"
3. "be open longer, both before and after school"
All excellent, hardly misguided. Education standards have been falling for years in the UK and it's great to see some people ready to change that. The words 'study hard', 'work hard', 'achieve' and 'succeed' seem too often to be not part of our vocabulary any more.
On 11 Jan 2012 at 10:44am Paul Newman wrote:
DFL - No DFL ,spending more money does not make a better education. Look at the facts. God only knows why you think that certain people should not only pay for everyone elses children but then additional amounts for their own whithin a diverse system. Are people to be punished for choices that do not match some failed totalitarian day dream supported by people like Dee-lite...
I want choice. I want standards driven up by parents, and I want failing schools to fail, not to be inflicted on children in perpetuity.If parents feel a religious framework is right for their children. That is up to them, not you!
On 11 Jan 2012 at 10:47am DFL wrote:
SHS, I'm assuming your points are the benefits of "free schools", if so, what proof do you have that these will happen, and why ?
On 11 Jan 2012 at 10:50am Clifford wrote:
Paul Newman wrote: 'The existing regime is indefensible, unless you are a member of the NUT and don`t care as long as you get your pension.'

This is the new Tory 'line to take' that you'll read all over the place. Don't engage with what teachers say, just refer to their pensions. Teachers in 'free' schools and academies don't get pensions do they Paul? That's right, isn't it?
On 11 Jan 2012 at 10:52am DFL wrote:
Paul, spending less money equals less education, end of. We already have choice, and how do you envisage parents driving up standards ? - chosing a different (free) school perhaps ?
On 11 Jan 2012 at 11:36am Paul Newman wrote:
DFL It does not . It means less shiny buildings un-used labs overpaid staff.40,000 additional teachers and helpers have improved secondary education not one iota." Throw other people`s money at it and hope " has been tested to destruction.
We do not have a choice . We have the same crap in a different building and local authorities don`t care because somone has to populate their temple to indifference if it is burning down. In Sweden it has worked well not only impriv0ng standards but dragging the old system along as well
On 11 Jan 2012 at 11:38am Mercian wrote:
"The existing regime is indefensible, unless you are a member of the NUT and don`t care as long as you get your pension."
Let's assume for a moment that the current regime is not working. That doesnt' mean that Mr Gove's proposals might not make it even worse, does it? Nor does it mean that any alternative is better.
"If parents feel a religious framework is right for their children. That is up to them, not you! "
How far do you take this line of argument? If parents want their children not to have an education at all, is that acceptable? IF they want them to believe the earth is flat, is that ok?

On 11 Jan 2012 at 11:38am Deelite wrote:
SHS: those are all aims of existing state schools. Take Priory for instance. Which one of the three does not apply? (FYI Priory is open for at least conventional working hours.)
On 11 Jan 2012 at 12:10pm Southover Queen wrote:
First of all, shiny buildings and motivated staff do quite clearly make a big difference. Witness the transformation of Hackney Downs school from an institution in special measures whose proximity to residential neighbours devalued their homes because of thieving and vandalism to the best school for miles. A school, by the way, which has transformed the life chances of its pupils.

Secondly, why on earth does East Sussex need a free school? It most certainly is not needed in Lewes, where the standards achieved by the existing state provision are absolutely excellent. Maybe Eastbourne is different, but leave us out of it.

Thirdly, if you accept that the problems many children have in learning are caused by inadequate parenting, how is handing control to them going to help? It isn't, is it, because those parents will be excluded; isn't that the whole point? How does ghettoising further an already desperately underserved sector of the population (and in particular their children) help anyone? The more you fail to engage with that sector the fuller our jails will be of illiterate, ignorant young people and our hospitals with their victims.

Mercian's right too: where are the controls which will prevent a whole bunch of loony creationists to set up schools? I know they have already, but at least they're having to pay lip service to complying with the national curriculum. What's to stop a bunch of Jehovah's Witnesses or followers of the Spaghetti Monster setting up a school and claiming hundreds of thousands of state funding to legitimise their beliefs?
On 11 Jan 2012 at 12:25pm Observer wrote:
Just three points from me on this.
1. As someone forced to endure the early days of comprehensive secondary education, I believe that the end of 'grammar' and 'secondary modern' schools heralded the start of the decline of education in this country. This essentially left-wing ideology-based equality experiment dragged average standards down, as tends to always happen.
2. Whilst I am in the business sector which has / would profit(ed) from the creation of shiny new buildings, old teaching environments don't exactly harm standards at Marlborough, Harrow, Eton, etc
3. Who can blame people wanting to escape from such an inadequate national curriculum and the largely self-interested agenda of the unionised teaching sector
On 11 Jan 2012 at 12:30pm Clifford wrote:
Paul Newman wrote: 'In Sweden it has worked well not only impriv0ng standards but dragging the old system along as well.'

Please try to keep up Paul. This is what the Daily Telegraph says:

'A report said the schools ?? set up and run by parents, teachers, charities and voluntary groups ?? benefited children from highly-educated families more than those from the poorest backgrounds.
'The study said any advantages gained by pupils attending free schools in Sweden failed to translate into ??greater educational success? beyond the age of 16.
'The conclusions, published in the latest education of Research in Public Policy, comes just days after Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, invited groups to apply to run their own primary and secondary schools in England.'

Check it out here »
On 11 Jan 2012 at 12:33pm Paul Newman wrote:
SQ- They demonstrably have not .Mossbourne Academy( an early free school)sits on the site of Hackney Downs, the disaster area typical LEA failure machine, like many more London schools had had endless funds thrown at it to no effect and well paid teachers who left regularly. Its academy status freed it to follow a rigorous traditional disciplined regime rooted in the Catholic faith of its inspirational head Sir Michael Wilshaw. The design , not the cost of the buildings was the point , London abounds with new buildings with useless teaching in them.
On 11 Jan 2012 at 1:12pm martin wrote:
lots of interesting discussion, but again it has drifted off the point. In my opinion Free Schools have no place in our educations system, further fragmentation and leaving management to a bunch of poorly qualified, hobbyists, who will get bored once their little darling has gone through the system in whatever cosseted way their parent chooses rather than being exposed to a range of experiences and people is an incredibly backward and inward looking step.
Instead we should be embracing difference through a international view of the world that encourages wider thinking, (best delivered through a standard teaching system) not that of a few individuals with some spare time on their hands, that could hand the reigns over to any morally bankrupt individual witha few bob in their pocket
On 11 Jan 2012 at 1:15pm Mr Forks wrote:
Bring on the Paul Newman Free School preaching endless Tory rigmoral, lies and dogma. With a uniform of brownshirts and jackboots!
On 11 Jan 2012 at 1:58pm Southover Queen wrote:
Well excuse me Paul but you appear to be agreeing with me. Motivated staff under a great head and new buildings which are fit for purpose in the 21st century are precisely what has transformed that school. I'm not making any wider political claims than that (although of course that transformation happened under a Labour government), and I am very uneasy about academies let alone free schools. I cannot see any advantage (beyond satisfying ideologues) of further fragmenting the educational system.

Returning to local conditions for a moment, it seems pretty clear that Lewes' educational successes are related to many things: a population which is mostly keen to see their children do well and able to support their education, happy to send them to state schools so that they mix with a wide cross-section of society and a town which supports one excellent secondary school, rather than two set in competition against each other. I know that "competition" and "free market" is the mantra, but frankly it often seems counterproductive in the teaching of children.

I haven't yet heard an argument for a free school here. Come on: I'm really interested in hearing how it would improve educational provision in Lewes.
On 11 Jan 2012 at 2:57pm Paul Newman wrote:
You quoted perhaps the most famous exemplar of what Free status can do, against free status, and just for good measure a school with an ultra conservative teaching regime. Like every other school in London it has had investment but the majority under the LEA have failed and failed and failed. Mossborne Academy sent 10 Hackney young people to Cambridge last year. I`m sure you mean well but ..I think a nap might be a good idea.
On 11 Jan 2012 at 3:50pm Clifford wrote:
Don't forget Paul ''The study said any advantages gained by pupils attending free schools in Sweden failed to translate into ??greater educational success? beyond the age of 16.'
On 11 Jan 2012 at 4:58pm DFL wrote:
There's that word again Paul - FAILED - I'd give up now if I were you !
On 11 Jan 2012 at 6:35pm Dingo wrote:
Paul never lets the facts affect his rhetoric.H`es like one of those stupid mechanical birds that sits on the edge of a glass automaticaly dipping it`s wooden head into the glass of water ,time after time,after time.H`es got an wrong headed opinion on just about everything .He can`t help himself, he just has to dip his stupid tory beak into every argument.If we think he`s tedious imagine what his familly must have to put up with.Luv a duck!
On 11 Jan 2012 at 7:30pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
I'm not convinced that spending more money necessarily means a better education. Small classes clearly benefit, but I think a class of 35 with a brilliant teacher would do just as well as a class of 20 with a rubbish one.
I think excellent teachers and parents who value learning and are supportive are the most important factor, although I agree that good buildings, books and equipment help.
I got a scholarship to a very posh private school, which had small classes and fantastic facilities. The exam results weren't outstanding and we took fewer exams and therefore passed fewer than a friend who went to a selective secondary modern in the same borough. His 11 O-levels and 4 A -levels beat my measly 5 O-levels by miles.
The only significant difference was that my school got more people into Oxbridge, but I suspect that may have been because it was posh.
On 11 Jan 2012 at 10:13pm East Sussex Free School wrote:
Dear all,
Firstly can I thank Kathy for her post. It has certainly generated strong comments.
Can I add some clarity to the situation:
1) We are a parent/teacher group. The teachers are state secondary school teachers. None of them are "management", all are subject leaders or just plain teachers. There is good reason why they do not wish to make themselves public, as victimisation in the workplace would make their jobs unbearable. The parents in the group have their children in primary schools that are not supportive of the project, and do not wish to labelled. Their children still have a few years to go before secondary school.
2) We have no loony sponsors, we are secular group, focusing on excellent core subjects and providing the best state technology and science tuition in the County.
3) The teachers themselves have come up with the longer day, mainly to achieve what they want to see - quality education, not quick fix league table games. We want a school that offers extra curricular time, both to expand the pupils exposure to new activities and to allow working parents to hold down full time jobs.
4) The costs of set up are smaller than a new school. The new schools the teachers in our group have worked in are not all that, often PFI muddles of poor build quality - rated to last 25 years. We will provide extra capacity at lower set up cost. We still get the same per pupil funding though, so there will be no penny pinching. We will also be paying the leadership less so there is money for more teachers.
5) Results are not always what they seem. Education is more than results (we still aim to have damn good results though).
6) Education is time spent with the pupil. There is no magic technique, no short cuts. Time, understanding, questioning, mentoring and guiding pupils will be what we put into their education. Grades gained in subjects of questionable rigour is not what we will be about.
7) We have no plans to offer teaching posts to unqualified teachers, but where would the harm be in asking a university lecturer in to teach a regular English session, for example? No QTS for him. What about an engineer from local company coming in to showcase industrial techniques on a regular slot? Still no? Fair enough, send you children to a school that does not have that, it's the choice you can make.
8) Choice - if parents want this, why should they not have it? Have any of you tried changing a school as a parent? If no one want the school, it will not open. Thus far this is not the response we have had.
9) We abide by the same admissions code as most schools. Ours is even better in fact - no religious selection and we are looking to have a massive catchment area to avoid parents competing for homes near the school. All who want to apply stand a chance. The procedure has to be clear and fair, by law. We will be the most open school in the area.
10) Our curriculum will be very "traditional. This is a loaded term, but that is how we think of it.
The most important question for this board is 'How will it improve provision in Lewes?'. It will provide choice. Cannot get into Priory? Try East Sussex Free School. As parents you need a longer day to hold down a full time job? Same again. Want to be sure your child will not be put on a course of questionable value? Same again. Work in Eastbourne? Send them to us. you stand as good a chance as any. The main one: Want your child well educated, with access to more sports extra curricular activities? Send them to the East Sussex Free School.
If you want to know more about Free Schools in general download the application guidance on the DfE site. No one would approach this lightly without a good reason.
We know we will not convince those who are against it, but give people a choice and see what they want. All we want to know is how many in Lewes would want access to this. If you do, support us on the website.

East Sussex Free School
On 12 Jan 2012 at 12:32am Dingo wrote:
You can justify your sefishness and elitism any way you want, it just doesn`t wash.You and your sharp elbowed middle class chums are playing the same old game of" Me first!Get out of the way!"You are helping to undermine our universal education system and are a acting as third column for a Tory government hell bent on destroying the welfare state.I hope the plans for your little school ends up in the waste paper bin where it belongs.
On 12 Jan 2012 at 1:11am Dingo wrote:
Not a left wing paper paper in my opinion read the link.p.sWould you send your child to a school whose leaders characterise legitimate opposition to the setting up of free schools by the majority of teachers as "victimisation".maybe this deeply dishonest use of language is the product of the writer having a "traditional"education.

Check it out here »
On 12 Jan 2012 at 7:20am Paul Newman wrote:
Dingo - It is no surprise that teachers and their unions oppose the end of their slumbering monopoly. London University is closely aligned with the educational establishment and in particular teachers training and opposed to competition , even a competition of ideas and methods.The paper you quote was written against the orthodox views of the Swedes and whilst part of a debate is an outlier. New Labour, as has been mentioned , started down this road which is better characterised as a Liberal than a "Tory" measure . As a parent I am overjoyed to see this development . Parents will support it.No-one else counts
On 12 Jan 2012 at 7:22am inciongxuo wrote:
On 12 Jan 2012 at 9:18am DFL wrote:
Fine words from ESFS, but Dingo has it in his phrase - "You are helping to undermine our universal education system and are acting as third column for a Tory government hell bent on destroying the welfare state". And as for you Paul - "Parents will support it.No-one else counts", really, no one else counts ? dear me Paul.
On 12 Jan 2012 at 9:45am Winterbourne Wanderer wrote:
I'd really like to ask ESFS why they have decided not to include PSHE (Personal Social & Health Education) as a separate part of the curriculum?
On 12 Jan 2012 at 10:07am Observer wrote:
Good Lord!
WHY ARE PEOPLE SO OPPOSED TO OPTIONS IN EDUCATION THAT MIGHT PROVIDE BETTER OUTCOMES FOR SOME PEOPLE'S KIDS? Not everyone and everywhere is equal - many parents don't have the choice of schools of the standard here in Lewes - fact. get over it - many kids don't want to learn a thing so let them rot, don't let them drag everyone else down to their level.
On 12 Jan 2012 at 12:28pm DFL wrote:
Allowing kids not to be educated is not an option Observer, even if they rather not !
On 12 Jan 2012 at 12:58pm Deelite wrote:
Observer. Much of the antpathy to Free Schools is due to them draining the local authority schools of funds, thereby reducing the quality of education for many. So what might benefit a few in Eastbourne is likely to be to the detriment of schools like Priory and Chailey who will see their budgets decline as the Tories funnel money to those that support their ideology. I hope that is said clearly enough for you.
On 12 Jan 2012 at 1:01pm Observer wrote:
Very clearly claimed, thanks. Can you point me towards the UK proof please?
On 12 Jan 2012 at 1:29pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
I think the new free schools and academies get more funding per child than schools under LEA control. rather like grammar schools get more funding per child than comps. Thats already unfair.

I'd like to know how much the free school is going to pay its teachers - or is that a secret ?. I'd also like to know if teachers will be allowed union representation (if not, why not). How is the free school going to keep class sizes down ? It talks about being an academic traditional school and setting its own curriculum, but what exam system will it be using ?

What is the free school going to do about selection - what will their criteria be ? If they have a massive catchment area and everyone suddenly applies there, who are they going to turn away and on what basis - academic selection ? interview ? None of this is clear in their website. if I was marking their website it would get a 'c' - not enough detail in their answers, avoidance of answering questions fully, not comprehensively researched, not enough clarity and transparency.

By the way every child who lives in Lewes catchment gets a place at Priory if they want it. And there are many kids at Priory who come from out of catchment.
On 12 Jan 2012 at 1:49pm some0ne else wrote:
The Tories' logic here is idiotic and duplicitous, even by their own standards. Any system cannot provide choice unless there is surplus capacity. Surplus capacity cannot be provided without inefficiency - or what the Tories call 'waste'. If the government provides a finite budget, then it is inevitable that the more choice there is, the less is spent on each child. However, unless the school system as a whole provides at least two potential places for each child at all times, then clearly some parents will have no 'choice'.

One of the reasons Priory is a successful school is because there is, in essence, little choice in Lewes. It truly represents all of the local society. My kids know of several kids who have left public school to go there. Because parents do not try to get able kids into schools elsewhere, standards are kept high. Schools only fail when their intake becomes too heavily biased to low achievers.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in principle with state education. What should happen is that the government should be focussing spending on improving existing schools. That they would rather spend on the ideological destruction of the existing system speaks volumes about their real interests.
On 12 Jan 2012 at 3:07pm Paul Newman wrote:
Yes providing choice involves waste. That is precisley why the 20th century witnessed the triumph of the efficient choice free Soviet Economy over the wasteful and backward free market of the West .
Rather sweet to see that antiquated old marxist line exhumed.
(Where do they dig these people up ? )
On 12 Jan 2012 at 4:56pm bastian wrote:
observer, anyone who uses the word "outcomes" needs to be shot, it's the epitomy of management speak that sets my teeth on edge.It's not "learning" it's education and we are not "stakeholders" we are parents. This kind of b*ll*cks may have seemed smart in the golden mile but in a secondary school it sounds so crass.
On 12 Jan 2012 at 6:41pm Observer wrote:
Not sure why you singled me out for that rant, bastian? I didn't use the word 'outcomes'...
But someOne else, do you think that the story about those kids you mention left public school to go to Priory, was down to the better education, or less money in the household?
On 12 Jan 2012 at 7:10pm Deelite wrote:
Observer, how do you propose I point you to the evidence? Anyway, no matter as it is self-evident. The education budget is finite. The Tories are diverting a larger share (on a school-by-school) basis to the Free Schools. The increased money spent on a Free School diminishes the amount left for the state schools. In addition the efficiencies gained from central purchasing and management are lost.

This thread has reached its limit now
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Lewes to Uckfield Line

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