Parents decide future of free school, not politicians

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So Peter Pike is opposed to the new free school bid. Would anyone expect him to be anything else?

It is very apt Mr Pike’s opposition, and that of Roger Frost and Chris Keene should be announced at more or less the same time as the revelation that British teenagers have dropped out of the top 20 international rankings in maths, science and reading.

Let us start with a fact your correspondents either deny or choose to ignore, that our secondary education system is failing and is not fit for purpose, for whatever reasons.

Personally, I think it started with the abolition of most of our grammar schools but that’s another argument. We are where we are.

The BSF scheme has been an unnecessarily expensive failure. It managed to turn good schools, such as Ivy Bank, St Theodore’s and St Hilda’s, into basket cases almost overnight. Nice, new buildings are great but buildings do not make good or outstanding schools – only good or outstanding teachers can do this.

I do think it was a mistake by the Church of England not to go for a secondary school in Burnley but although parents choose faith schools in Accrington and Blackburn, faith is not the only issue. Many Burnley parents choose to send their children to schools in Hyndburn, Blackburn and Ribble Valley. Why do they do this? Because they want the best for their children and do not think they will get this in Burnley.

The status quo in our secondary education is not an option – we need to improve. This is what the Education Secretary and Government are trying to do.

It is not about preserving the jobs of teachers or keeping open failing schools. It is much more important than that. It is about the life chances of our children.

The issue of non-qualified teachers is a red herring. Some of the most inspirational teachers have no formal qualifications. What matters is a passion for the job and the ability to make our children the best they can be.

As for the proposed free school, it will give another option to parents. At the end of the day they will decide its future, not politicians or others with axes to grind.

F.W. Birch

Kingsley Avenue