It appears the United Kingdom’s Labour Party is not completely opposed to free schools — publicly-funded schools that operate independently much like American charter schools. In a slightly misleading announcement, shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said that if Labour wins the next election there would be “no additional free schools.” However, the party would encourage “parent-led” and “teacher-led” academies, according to Telegraph Peter Dominiczak.
But these are nothing but free schools under a different name, according to conservatives.
Amid growing confusion over his education policies, Mr Twigg told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Labour is “not going to have more free schools”.
“Existing free schools will stay open, free schools in the pipeline will go ahead, but we will not have additional free schools,” he said. “What we will have is a new academies programme including parent-led academies, really good teacher-led academies.”
Twigg said in a speech that Labour intends to allow all schools the freedoms that are now only enjoyed by free schools and academies. He said all council-run schools would have more flexibility in choosing curricula and length of school terms.
Lord Adonis, the former Labour Schools Minister, wrote an article supporting Twigg’s view on community empowerment. He commended the choice to support all free schools that are already successful and ones in the process of opening for 2015, and that he will not tolerate failing schools.
He states that the main difference between the Labour and Conservative party is that Conservatives allow ‘free schools’ to be founded anywhere regardless of if there is a true need for them. Labour, however, will locate new academies where there is a shortage of quality schools.
Since there is a strain on public spending, resource allocation has become critically important. In 2010 Education Secretary Michael Gove cut 715 building projects for academies in areas that desperately needed them, and Labour wants to make it a priority to put schools where they can help the most.
Lord Adonis also stressed the importance of apprenticeships for students who are not on the track for higher education — an area he says the Conservatives have not addressed.
He criticized Michael Gove for putting the focus on things such as the order in which students should be taught periods of history instead of focusing on the mass unemployment of yout due to the lack of apprenticeships and technical education.
Michael Gove and the government are twiddling their thumbs in the face of this great crisis of youth unemployment. It is One Nation Labour’s duty to act on apprenticeships with the boldness and passion we demonstrated in the creation of academies to replace failing comprehensives. We will do so.