Logo

Education writer Fiona Millar slams free schools as ‘Trojan horse’ for privatisation

PUBLISHED: 10:00 15 November 2012

Fiona Millar believes the free schools model is part of privatisation efforts from the Conservative Party.

Fiona Millar believes the free schools model is part of privatisation efforts from the Conservative Party.

Archant

Prominent education writer and Camden resident Fiona Millar has blasted the government’s free school policy as a “Trojan horse” for privatisation.

Since coming to power in 2010, the coalition government has overseen the opening of 79 free schools nationwide.

The Department for Education’s website has a map scattered with dots, denoting free schools due to open next September.

There are 102, almost double the 55 which opened this September. The inaugural crop was 24 in 2011.

It concerns Fiona Millar, co-founder of education website Local Schools Network, whose children were all educated at Camden state schools.

She believes all schools should be “accountable” to local authorities rather than education secretary Michael Gove, as they are under the free schools model.

“I think it is quite likely that the whole independent state school movement is really a Trojan horse for the introduction of profit-making schools,” said Ms Millar, partner of former Labour press chief Alastair Campbell.

“We know that is what the Conservative Party really wants and full scale privatisation will be much easier to introduce under this model.”

Under the model pioneered by Michael Gove, parents and community members can apply to set up a new school, which can then be run by an independent education provider.

In September 2011, St Luke’s Church of England School opened in the undercroft of St Luke’s Church in Kidderpore Avenue, Hampstead. Next September, Abacus Belsize Primary School is due to open on a site, yet to be decided, in Belsize Park.

The groups behind both schools insist their creations stem from a need for school places, which are drastically over-subscribed across London.

Penny Roberts, chairman of governors at St Luke’s, said: “The school was absolutely not set up for ideological reasons. It was an act of altruism from a local church to provide something that was clearly needed – school places.”

Retired headteacher Linda Grove, a member of the body behind Abacus Belsize, said the new school is designed to address a “black hole” in Belsize Park “where there is no state primary school”.

One of the hallmarks of the free school movement is the autonomy each school has over its own curriculum.

Despite this freedom, St Luke’s is largely directed by the national curriculum, as will Abacus Belsize, save for minor variations which Mrs Roberts describes as “enrichment”.

St Luke’s teach Spanish to pupils from when they start in reception and similarly Abacus Belsize intend to add Mandarin to the national curriculum.

“No other state primary school in Camden is teaching Mandarin but we will do that because it’s the language of today and tomorrow as far as business is concerned,” said Mrs Grove.

Abacus Belsize has set its catchment area to the confines of Belsize Park, however if space remains once every local child has been given a place then the school will open to children outside of the immediate area.

Ms Millar sees cause for concern in such freedom of choice, fearing it may lead to “social selection” at some schools where catchment areas might deliberately “include more affluent families”.

But Mrs Roberts insists there is no need to worry.

“I hope that people who are ideologically opposed realise that there is nothing to fear and that St Luke’s is a worthwhile addition to the body of schools in the community.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate education news

Roll up, roll up: Highgate School summer fair kicks into gear

The Highgate School summer fair is kicking into gear on Saturday and the organisers reckon it is going to be the best one yet.

American School in London hoping to provide youngsters with summer of lifetime once again

Providing youngsters with the summer of a lifetime is the motivation for a St John’s Wood school which has been putting on camps for more than a quarter of a century.

Swiss Cottage School is one of country’s best after sixth consecutive ‘outstanding’ Ofsted

Swiss Cottage School has become one of a handful of schools to be given an “outstanding” Ofsted rating for the sixth time in a row.

Former refugees reunite at Chalk Farm school where they met

Two women who arrived in the UK as refugees have returned to the school where they became friends.

Students ditch smartphones and go back to basics in pioneering King Alfred School project

For one week in the summer term, 50 King Alfred School students camp outdoors with six teachers and form their own community.

Highgate Wood School, Fortismere School, Greig City Academy and Hornsey School for Girls star in Haringey awards ceremony

The future is bright in Haringey after a stellar array of school role models were celebrated.

What art education decline? Highgate School students pull off stellar exhibition

Despite widespread fears that art education is in decline, students at Highgate School have shown that there is plenty of appetite for the subject after a stellar exhibition.

From basketball star to debating champion: Haringey high achievers set for Jack Petchey awards

A basketball superstar, champion of debating and teenage interpreter are just some of the characters being rewarded for achieving great things in Haringey this year.

Concerns grow over Muswell Hill Library’s future

Suspicions a much-loved public library could be moved have led to anxiety for its supporters.

Q and A: The Cavendish School headteacher Jane Rogers

In our latest question and answer feature for Ham&High Education, we interviewed The Cavendish School headteacher Jane Rogers.

Teenager dies after being found unresponsive at Hampstead Garden Suburb school

A teenage girl has died after being found unresponsive at her school.

Hampstead child psychiatrist pens parental guide to help build kids’ self-esteem

A child psychiatrist believes that having conversations with your children from a young age is vital in building their self-esteem.

Time running out to bid on your favourite from the Camden School for Girls anonymous art competition

Time is running out to bid on the Camden School for Girls anonymous art auction.

New headteacher determined to lead Portland Place School into new era

A new headteacher has taken up his position at the helm of Portland Place School.

Frank Barnes School rides wave of transition and bags another ‘outstanding’ Ofsted

A Camden school for deaf children has been rated “outstanding” by Ofsted once again, despite moving to a new site and losing a long-serving headteacher in the space of a year.

Placard-wielding Haringey families protest against funding cuts at Highgate Wood and Alexandra Park

Placard-wielding families have ramped up the pressure on campaigning politicians with a series of protests across Haringey’s parks.

Highgate Library ‘being sacrificed’ in possible move to Jacksons Lane

The introduction of plans to relocate a 110-year-old library to a nearby arts centre has been met with resistance by users.

Army of Muswell Hill Primary School students, parents and teachers take on Highgate Woods charity walk

An army of schoolchildren, staff and parents have raised £2,000 by taking part in a sponsored walk around Highgate Woods.

Portland Place School students share social media expertise with Victoria Derbyshire on BBC show

A trio of Portland Place School pupils were invited to the BBC to share their expertise on social media.

Fears grow in Highgate over 110-year-old library’s future home

Visitors to a library which could move from its Highgate home after 110 years have called for a rethink.

Woodside High School working with Muswell Hill energy group to install solar panels on sports hall roof

Woodside High School is working with a Muswell Hill energy group to put up solar panels in a bid to save around £63,000 in electricity bills over the next 20 years.

Camden protest assembly in response to funding cuts cancelled after Manchester Arena attack

A Camden ‘big assembly’ scheduled to take place this afternoon in response to funding education cuts has been cancelled in the wake of last night’s attack in Manchester.

Camden and Haringey parents descend on parks for protest assemblies against school funding cuts

Camden and Haringey parents are descending on parks this week for protest picnics and assemblies against school funding cuts.

Funding, academies and SATs: Haringey politicians debate education issues at St Mary’s Primary School in Hornsey

Funding for education in Haringey came under the spotlight last night as politicians, teachers and parents came together for a ‘question time’ style debate in the run up to the General Election.

Inspirational Highgate Wood sociology teacher lauded by high-flying ex-students at Oxford University

A Crouch End secondary school teacher has been honoured by Oxford University for the inspirational role he played for two of his former students.

Heartlands High School staff and students take on River Thames challenge ahead of trip to Ghana

An army of 115 staff and students from a Wood Green school have completed a 26-mile walk along the River Thames.

Michael Gove debates Brexit at South Hampstead High School

In the run up to the General Election a former leadership candidate for the Conservative party took to the stage at South Hampstead High School for a lively debate with students.

Can you answer these SATs exam questions designed for 11-year-olds?

Hundreds of 11-year-old students across Camden, Barnet and Haringey sat their SATs exams last week - but how would you fare?

Politicians to be quizzed about funding cuts at St Mary’s Primary School in Hornsey

Politicians are set to be quizzed on funding cuts to schools across Haringey in a series of Question Time style evenings.

Highgate School considering ‘gender neutral’ uniforms as students question identity

Highgate School is considering bringing in ‘gender neutral’ uniforms in response to students questioning their identity.

Hasmonean High School, Islamia Girls’ School and UCL Academy come together for inter-faith programme

Students from different backgrounds have been brought together in a programme designed to empower teenage girls.

Campaign at Camden School for Girls launched to promote music education for young people

A campaign to raise awareness of the importance of music education for children is hitting all the right notes.

Crouch End social enterprise sees homeless people getting creative ahead of King’s Cross photography exhibition

A photography exhibition is opening up in King’s Cross on Friday featuring work by homeless people living in hostels across north London.

Fleet-footed Eden Primary School students gearing up for Crouch End fun run

The benefits are endless for a group of fleet-footed youngsters taking part in running sessions before school.

Headteacher of ‘outstanding’ Fortismere School resigns

The headteacher of a Muswell Hill state school which has established itself as one of the best in the country has announced that she will be resigning at the end of the summer term.

Fortismere School determined to play pivotal role in supporting students struggling with mental health

A Muswell Hill school is pulling out all the stops to ensure it plays a pivotal role in supporting students who are struggling with their mental health.

Argyle Primary School students take to stage with cast members of STOMP at Ambassadors Theatre

Camden children took to the stage today with the cast of hit production STOMP as part of a campaign to encourage exercise across the borough.

Camden teachers cycling length of wall that divides Palestinian West Bank and Israel

A group of Camden teachers have challenged themselves to cycle the length of the separation wall that divides the Palestinian West Bank from Israel.

Headteacher lauds staff and students at Hornsey School for Girls following Ofsted report

A headteacher has lauded her staff and students after the latest Ofsted inspection at Hornsey School for Girls.

From maths mystery to maths mastery: Coldfall Primary School teacher on enlightening trip to Singapore

A group of teachers from a Muswell Hill school paid a visit to Singapore over the Easter break in a bid to expand their outlook on the teaching of maths.

Get inspired to put pen to paper by performance of Suddenly at Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone

A theatre company is hoping that children who come along to their latest production will be inspired to put pen to paper.

Parents missing out on National Offer Day due to high demand for ‘outstanding’ primary schools

We spoke to London Metropolitan University’s head of subject for health and childhood Kelly Cooper about her experience of National Offer Day...

Advice for Camden, Haringey, Barnet and Westminster parents on what to do if your child misses out on top primary school place

Families in Camden, Haringey, Barnet and Westminster found out yesterday whether their children had bagged their top choice of primary school.

More Barnet children set to attend primary school of their choice in September

More Barnet children will be attending the primary school of their choice in September.

Camden and Haringey 2017 primary school places allocated

Parents across Camden and Haringey have found out today which primary schools their children will be going to in September.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

2017 © Archant Community Media Ltd

Terms and conditions | Cookie policy | Jobs at Archant