The Government Department That Stole Christmas

The Department for Education have literally stolen my Christmas. Four times.

After a 3 year battle the DfE now claim they have ‘lost’ 41 free school letters

After three years, two court cases, endless emails, and a new interpretation of the law to try and stop it, the Department for Education have been ordered - yet again - to provide me information about free schools. But there is a new twist....

Kentucky Fried Schools: Are Academies a “trade secret”?

As explained a while back, I am currently in the process of studying academy providers who applied to run schools under the Targeted Basic Need Programme. One of the things I requested under the Freedom of Information Act was the plans submitted by academy trusts as part of their pitch to run schools. In most … Continue reading Kentucky Fried Schools: Are Academies a “trade secret”?

Serious Questions about the new “HeadTeacher Boards”

Announcements are finally due to be made about the appointment of the new Regional Schools Commissioners. For the uninitated, the Commissioners will work in geographically mad locations (see map) and will oversee all academies and free schools in that area. Essentially, they will act as devolved 'Secretary of States' in their region, but the four … Continue reading Serious Questions about the new “HeadTeacher Boards”

Clarifying IES Breckland and The Free School Monitoring Forms

I've contributed to some confusion today around IES Breckland's pre-Ofsted monitoring visit. Completely my mistake and given that I'm always banging on about things being clear, I thought it best to sort it out. Straightforward facts: Feb 25th - I blog about free schools receiving DfE monitoring visits which result in being given reports that … Continue reading Clarifying IES Breckland and The Free School Monitoring Forms

The Apology That Really *WAS* A Press Release

Two weeks ago I blogged about Michael Gove claiming he had an apology "confirmed in writing" from Action Fraud. The apology stated that Action Fraud were at fault for the mislabelling of a phone call about school fraud as 'information' rather than a 'crime' report. I asked via an FOI request to see the apology. The … Continue reading The Apology That Really *WAS* A Press Release

What do you notice about this Free School monitoring form?

The Department for Education has always said Free Schools were visited periodically after opening to ensure all was well. It was never clear who was making the visits, or what they involved, or what sort of feedback schools got - but we knew there were visits. To find out more I put in a Freedom … Continue reading What do you notice about this Free School monitoring form?

Update: DfE start repopulating TBNP site

After my earlier blog post outlining the mysterious disappearance of the DfE's Targeted Basic Need Programme website, two key things happened. One - Adrian Short found a cached version of the original TBNP website  https://twitter.com/adrianshort/status/428108259103232000 And here it is. See its many shiny links!: Seeing the page again made me notice the datestamp. 12 December 2013. … Continue reading Update: DfE start repopulating TBNP site

Why did the DfE delete the Targeted Basic Need Programme website?

Given that the Department for Education have asked for a Tribunal to keep free school information a secret, you might think they are in the habit of hiding things. But I'm generally an optimistic soul, and I don't think that. Not least because the majority of people I meet in edu-policy are thoughtful, and interesting, … Continue reading Why did the DfE delete the Targeted Basic Need Programme website?

5 Lessons From Derby: The Significance of Al-Madinah Free School

Any government spokesperson who says the failures of Al-Madinah Free School do not tell you anything about the wider policy, is entirely wrong.  The gaping and problematic holes in the free schools policy have been apparent ever since Michael Gove pushed through the free school legislation in a 5-day procedure usually reserved for terrorist threats, and anyone pretending otherwise is … Continue reading 5 Lessons From Derby: The Significance of Al-Madinah Free School

Following up on Free Schools & Transparency

My Guardian column this week explained why the current lack of transparency around Free Schools is unjustifiable. Several of the best US states have thoroughly transparent systems where the applications and school-granting process is publicly available and publicly consulted upon. Opponents to transparency argue that making the Free School process more open would mean it … Continue reading Following up on Free Schools & Transparency

All You Will Hear About Charter Schools Until 2017

This is Figure 1 from the 2013 CREDO Study Executive Summary. Get used to seeing it. I suspect it will soon become a new classic reference in education debate. By matching every student in a Charter School with a similar student in a nearby school, CREDO aims to see if there is a difference to … Continue reading All You Will Hear About Charter Schools Until 2017

Why did West London Free School change their vision?

Back in November I collected the vision, aims and ethos webpages of all the 2011 Free School cohort to analyse as part of my PhD. Most of them are unbelievably monotonous but I always enjoyed West London Free School's: After all: Who doesn't want their child to grow up to be a world-beater? So imagine … Continue reading Why did West London Free School change their vision?

Timeline of New Zealand Partnership Schools

New Zealand are bringing in US-inspired "Charter" and UK-inspired "Free" schools. For a conference earlier in the year I had to create a timeline of the events leading up to its introduction. It was ridiculously quick. 2012 August 2nd - First announcement of policy. Hekia Parata, the Education Minister, makes a speech announcing that groups … Continue reading Timeline of New Zealand Partnership Schools

Wilson: Never Over-Promise on A New School

Wilson's Learning on the Job is the best book for learning about academisation as it has been realised in the US. Once a CEO of an academy chain, Wilson's book functions as a history of the Charter School movement in the US but also looks closely at the successes and failures of each provider. One of … Continue reading Wilson: Never Over-Promise on A New School

The “Political Spectacle” of England and New Zealand’s Free and Partnership Schools

Last week I presented a poster at the Comparative & International Education Conference 2013 of some tentative findings from a discourse analysis of education policy implementation in England and New Zealand. The purpose of the analysis is to see what were the reasons given for the policy and whether their use was justified. Finding out … Continue reading The “Political Spectacle” of England and New Zealand’s Free and Partnership Schools

What Might Stop Excellent Academy Chains From “Scaling Up”?

The Coalition's education ministers seem convinced that academy-chains are  "the next big thing". Money is available for academy sponsors to take over failing(ish) schools, and chains are an increasing player in upcoming 'Free Schools'. Theoretically, 'successful' chains will deliver the economies of scale and quality assurance of LEAs, while also being free of unions, pesky … Continue reading What Might Stop Excellent Academy Chains From “Scaling Up”?

The Puzzle of the Free School Teachers (Re-direct)

*This post was originally at the LKMCo website and was published on 17th May 2011*   Recently I’ve noticed a puzzle I can’t solve.  As the writer of a booklet about Free Schools I’ve worked with several Free School applicants and I keep a close eye on who is planning to do what.  Hence I noticed a … Continue reading The Puzzle of the Free School Teachers (Re-direct)