It is crucial for free schools to be able to establish themselves even when the local authority is hostile. Katharine Birbalsingh was thwarted by Lambeth Council and so is setting up in Tooting. Perhaps the most left wing council in the country at present is in Brighton and Hove where there is a Green Party minority administration. (Although I think if Ken Livingstone becomes Mayor of London in May then the GLA would be able to take that dubious title.)
Here is what they propose:
We will be applying to the Department for Education (DfE) to open a new secondary school situated in the BN3 post code area to serve both its locality and those of the Christian faith citywide. The school will have a distinctly Christian ethos and will admit up to 50% of its students based on a faith criterion. We know that many families want their children to continue their education in a local Church of England (CofE) secondary school, having attended a CofE primary school. King's School will serve these families along with the whole BN3 community including those of other and no faith .
Although employing the most modern equipment and up-to-date teaching techniques, the school will have an unashamed focus on a traditional array of academic subjects and will aim to be ‘outstanding’.
We are planning for the school to admit its first year 7 students in September 2013.
Our vision: A school with a Christian ethos open to all
We promise to work together with our parents, students and the local community to create a school environment that inspires and equips our young people to go out into the modern world prepared for life in all its fullness.
Underpinning all we do is our core Christian belief that each young person is special and unique with particular talents and needs which should be supported and encouraged in a school framework that fosters growth spiritually, physically and intellectually.
Who are we?
We are a group of parents addressing a local demand for more choice of secondary school for young people and their parents. We believe that our new school, King’s School, with its distinctive Christian ethos and its focus on traditional subjects and high standards of behaviour and academic performance, will appeal to local families, whether or not they are part of a faith community.
We have partnered with a national education trust, Russell Education Trust. We are also in discussion with the local Anglican Diocese and have consulted with the City Council.
Here is the response from Cllr Ben Duncan, the Cabinet Member for Communities, Equality and Public Participation:
“Campaign against latest Tory plan for cult followers to wrest control of education from state in Hove.”
There then followed some sort of bogus apology. But pretty obvious that this supposed champion of equality is an anti Christian bigot and that he doesn't like "public participation" when the public are doing something so tangible as starting a school. Clearly the council will do all in its power prevent the extension of choice to their residents. The planning rules still leave them with some scope.