Local authority control of schools: not such a bad idea?

We are used to rows about education in Northern Ireland. England, however, has been having its own rows over Michael Gove’s Free Schools. Free schools are free to attend and also free from the control of the local authority. This is presented as a good idea freeing schools from political control – usually the implication being of control from “loony left” councils (if there are any of them left). Gove’s plans recently suffered a minor set back when a Muslim Free School in Derby was labelled “dysfunctional” and inadequate in all areas by an Ofsted inspection.

The latest education row to hit the headlines, however, concerns a standard local authority run school though it casts the local authority in a better light as the voice of sanity.

Littleton Green Community School, Cannock in Staffordshire had organised a trip to Staffordshire University to “explore other religions” (according to the Daily Mail largely Islam). Nothing terribly controverial thus far: The problem, however, came with the apparent threat in the letter to parents.

‘Refusal to allow your child to attend will result in a Racial Discrimination note being attached to your child’s education record, which will remain on this file throughout their school career.

All absences on this day will be investigated for their credibility and will only be sanctioned with a GP sick note.’

The local authority (admittedly Tory run) stepped in and forced the headteacher to make what seems to have been a pretty groveling apology. Maybe local authority control of schools is not such a bad idea after all? Had the school been a free school it is unclear if the head had the support of the governors who apart from the Secretary of State could have intervened to stop this threatening nonsense.

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