In a recent interview on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1, Tristram Hunt, new shadow education secretary for Labour, said: “I am in favour of parent-led academies which are going to be good parent-led academies. And we will keep the good free schools when we get into government.”
Mr. Hunt pledged his support for parents and teachers planning on setting up new schools but stressed that they should only be able to open where a shortage of school places was evident and suggested that these new schools would also be subject to greater oversight than those championed by education secretary Michael Gove.
This follows the recent press coverage of the Al-Madinah Muslim free school in Derby which is currently facing threat of closure surrounding allegations of discrimination against female teachers.
Mr. Hunt said: “If you are a group of parents, a group of social entrepreneurs, or teachers interested in setting up a school in areas where you need new schools, then the Labour government will be on your side. We are in favour of enterprise and innovation.
“But here is the difference. It is going to be in places of need because we have a school places crisis going on. Second, it is going to have properly qualified teachers in these schools. And third, you are going to have systems of financial accountability and transparency.”
In light of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report published in October, findings that around a quarter of adults in England had maths skills no better than those of a ten year old, Mr. Hunt said that the Labour party would improve these figures by focusing on teacher quality and their continuing professional development.
Groups wanting to set up free schools need to ensure they can deliver a very high level of detail in their plans and meet meticulous criteria, including providing robust financial plans, and how the school plans to offer value for money.
Nicklin’s can assist with the implementation and monitoring of strong financial controls to ensure your finances are in good hands. For more information on how we do this, please contact us.