Not so long ago Education Secretary Michael Gove's policy of introducing free schools was invariably given the prefix "controversial." Naturally the Labour Party and the teaching unions were implacably opposed. The Lib Dems briefed that they didn't really agree with it. Local councils, even some Conservative ones, opposed the idea, wanting to protect their failing schools from competition. Fiona Millar sneeringly told Toby Young on Newsnight that she wasn't really concerned as he would never be able to start a free school anyway, the whole idea was quite unrealistic.

Now criticism is just as likely to focus on frustration that the policy hasn't gone far enough.

Here are a couple of examples from this week of how the Zeitgeist has changed. In Sandwell we have Labour councillors furious that Mr Gove has not given approval to two free school proposals – a girls school in Oldbury, and a Sikh school in Smethwick.

Labour councillor and Cabinet member for Children and Families, Cllr Bob Badham said:

"Surveys have shown that up to 1,600 girls are leaving the borough because they want to attend an all girls school. This clearly shows that the community feels there is a need for a school like this and Mr Gove's decision is very disappointing."

But the Langley Independent Socialist, Cllr Mick Davies says:

“Michael Gove is the worst minister for education since Thatcher but in this case I have to agree with him."

As well as the growing drumbeat for more free schools, there is demand that they should have more freedom in the way they conduct their affairs. For example, interviewed in the Catholic Herald, Mr Gove is challenged over the rule that Roman Catholic free schools have a quota of only 50% of their places for Roman Catholics. If there is demand for a school made up entirely of Roman Catholic children, why should Mr Gove deny that choice?

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