"Free Schools" for British students

March 02, 2012, 12:35 PM GMT+0

44% Britons are against 'free schools' commissioning private companies to manage them

Almost half of Britons don’t think private companies should be commissioned to manage free schools, while just over 1 in 4 say they are in favour of the new system, our polls show. More Britons feel that the creation of free schools and academies will ‘make education standards worse’ rather than improve them.

  • 44% are against allowing free schools to commission private companies to manage their school, while 28% are in favour of this option
  • When considering free schools and how they’re run, 33% think that turning more schools into academies would make education standards worse
  • Conversely, 27% think it would make standards better, while 23% think it would ‘make no difference’
  • The majority of Britons (53%) feel that standards of education in schools has become worse over the last 10 years; 12% feel standards have become better, 25% think standards have remained the same

In a bid to improve education standards, a total of 71 new free schools and academies will open from September 2012. The new state-funded schools will have more freedom when planning curriculum, staff wages and conditions. Fundraisers who set up free schools cannot make a profit but are allowed to commission private companies to manage the institutions.

'Opening schools to the market place'?

The government has said it wants all schools to become academies, to help meet the needs of all pupils and eliminate failing teachers, while teachers unions and other critics have accused the government of "opening up schools to the market place".

Education Minister Michael Gove commented that the aim of the schooling system is to ensure that all children are tended to properly so no student is "unforgivably held back" in their learning.

However, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has said this new education and payment scheme in free schools will lead to a “two-tier system” where the needs of pupils will not be met and teachers will have wages cut while companies can choose what “returns they will reap for themselves”.

See the full results of our poll (pages) 7-9