Teachers’ union threatens legal action against free schools policy

Written on:April 9, 2023
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The National Union of Teachers (NUT) is contemplating legal actions against Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove’s free schools policy which the union believes is lacking transparency and promoting a culture of needless competition.

The NUT says many free schools are being run in areas such as Wandsworth and Bristol that don’t require any new secondary schools, thus raising the question if at all Gove has interpreted the law correctly. Moreover, the largest teachers’ union in Britain complains that clustering of schools in certain areas is fuelling unnecessary competition.

The NUT also says it is concerned about the viability of Ofsted inspections, stating that the inspection system is affecting the management bodies and also denting staff morale, especially in poorly-run schools. Many teachers from Northern Ireland have expressed their dissatisfaction with no-notice Ofsted inspections.

“I’m sure there are lots of us who have considered whether we could boycott Ofsted, whether we could have non-co-operation, and perhaps that’s going to be a lot to ask people to do”, said the union’s ruling executive member and Lewisham council teacher Martin Powell Davies.

“What we are talking about is the impact free schools have on other schools, that we think are damaging to education for children in the system”, deputy general secretary of the NUT Kevin Courtney said.

The principal at Sir John Leman Jeremy Rowe said the new free schools will prove detrimental to academic stability as they will pull in some of the pupils from already established schools, leading to a situation where two schools in close vicinity will either remain half full or worse, one will remain thickly populated leaving the other empty.

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