Free Schools, Academies State schools and the market.

Reading the Institute for Government’s report calling for better commissioning and contract management skills in central and local government further, they have made some really intelligent comments on the emerging schools market

As w know Education Secretary of State Michael Gove’s department is determined to create a market place, and local government across the county is trying to make sense of the new order as ‘children’s champions’ and how to support and hold to account schools at the same time as sponsors enter the market to run schools.

Here is Suffolk a part of our new role and approach is called ‘Raising the Bar’. To my mind the question is, will it ever be a true market or remain a quasi-market.

As a micro level of this its interesting seeing the various players debating the concept of a secondary ‘free school’ in Newmarket. Will it challenge the existing provision to raise it’s game and or are there actually enough children to make two secondary schools viable in terms of the range of the curriculum. Where will it be based and how will it be financed. Am I even allowed to say the existing needs to raise it’s game?

The report makes a really interesting analysis of the market place approach being adopted and raises real concerns that frankly I think many of us share, including the quality of some of the sponsors and the what ifs. Chief amongst them is one about what happens if a sponsor takes on a school and it drags down the sponsors other schools and their overall ‘rating’, if they withdraw and another sponsor can’t be found? – well I support maybe there will be a role for local government after all. Then is there a danger that parents perception or indeed reality is that the schools that shine are all Free or Academies and the geographic rump at the local authority ones? Indeed this was said to me very recently by a parent picking the next school for their son.

All in all, not only is it a fascinating time to be a Councillor, sort of being at the heart of many of these debates including the range of issues that the Institute for Government raises in their report. It will in 10 years time be interesting to see what has worked, what has not, what initiative and theories have survived and what have been dumped to be replaced with the next bright idea.

We live in interesting times.

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal, anything I write is promoted by Lance Stanbury on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Park Farm Cottage, Fordham St. Genevieve, BurySt. Edmunds, Suffolk IP28 6TS

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