In this blog I will be analysing the staffing at my free school. What are free schools? According to the teaching web-site-:
The first free schools were opened in 2011. Free Schools are independent schools with state funding. Any “suitable sponsor” can apply to the Secretary of State for Education for approval to open a free school including private businesses, academy chains, parents, teachers, other schools, universities and faith groups. Private schools can also apply to convert to free school status to access state funding. Free schools do not need local authority support to open and, despite the shortage of primary places in many parts of the country, many secondary free schools have been approved to open in areas with surplus places. (Teachers, on-line)
Unfortunately my free school had a very bumpy start in September 2012 when the head of the school became ill and could no longer work. He was allowed to employ two full time members of staff and five part time staff only due to the lack of funding. This is ironic when nearly one million pounds was spent on building and equipping the school. No expense was spared and the school promotes itself as having a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen, an interactive digital theatre and a 737 aeroplane fuselage converted into a classroom.
The shortage of trained staff due to funding fuels the ongoing problems faced by the school in the day to day running. Most of the apparatus in the kitchen have been broken for over a year, including the cookers, taps and sinks. This is a serious health and safety issue for the school. The catering students have never taken any health and safety units, which should be a first priority as they work in the kitchen at school and on placement.
The 737 aeroplane fuselage has never been used except for marketing purposes such as photographs. It is in a state of disrepair and will have to be scraped. There seems to be no structure in place for the courses we offer the students. Lightman states that the Free Schools policy is immoral and also states that-:
“Michael Gove has to remember that this is tax payers’ money and the education of tax payers’ children that he is playing fast and loose with. The Government must be held to account for a policy that is neither needed, wanted, which lacks transparency and which is not even greatly understood”. (Lightman, on-line)
I have genuine concern over the future of my free school and I believe if we received guidance from Bradford College in the running of the school it would help as they are stakeholders. Unfortunately it would seem that we are rivals in that they need the students for their funding, especially because they are moving into a brand new state-of-the-art building in August.
This statement by Gombrich speaks volumes-:
“People will never agree about education just as they will never agree about politics, food, or whether pop music really is as good as classical music. Any policy will therefore have to be piecemeal and a lot of it will always be unpopular. I have only one broad recommendation which I feel still hasn’t really been enacted in my lifetime: recruit the best people possible to teach in state schools, pay them wages comparable to lawyers and doctors and let them teach in the way they think best.” (Gombrich, on-line)
Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)