The Labour Party has attacked free schools as being purely for the middle classes. The Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt said they were a “vanity project for yummy mummies in West London.”
But recently there were another 38 free schools approved – bring the number approved or opened to 331. These will provide places for 331,000 pupils.
Given the locations of some of the newly approved applicants it is difficult for the Labour Party to sustain its contention that it is purely for the middle classes. Three of the 38 are in Hackney.
The Hackney Citizen reports:
“Hackney Wick Academy (HWA), Hackney New Primary School (HNPS) and Dalston Free Primary School are set to open in September 2015.
“Hackney Wick Academy is a secondary school that will aim to accept 150 pupils from September 2015. Hackney New Primary School, an expansion of the existing Hackney New School, a secondary free school, will take 50 students at reception.
“Philippa De’Ath, Vice Chair of Governors at Hackney New School, said she was “delighted” with the announcement, adding that that team faces a “big task to get the right site.” The Hackney New Primary School team has its sights set on the former fire station on Kingsland Road, next door to Hackney New School.
“Yemi Apampa, programme director of Debate Mate, the educational charity behind Hackney Wick Academy, said: “We’re pleased to have a vote of confidence from the Department of Education in support of our vision for the Hackney Wick Academy and we’re looking forward to moving on to the next stage in this exciting process.”
Hackney’s Labour councillor and Cabinet Member for Children’s Service, Cllr Antoinette Bramble said the council is “very open to innovation within education” and that she will be “supporting” the new free schools.
Among the other new free schools are four in Yorkshire – including two in Leeds and one in Barnsley.
There will be a Studio School in Mansfield specialising in engineering, transport, health and care.
The Crystal Palace Primary School is “conceived by a group of parents that were fed up with the lack of choice in their area. In addition to following the national curriculum, the school will make sure their pupils develop determination, optimism, curiosity and a hard work ethic.”
Liam Nolan is launching three more Perry Beeches free schools in Birmingham. Does Mr Hunt think Mr Nolan is a “yummy mummy”? Does the Labour MP for Birmingham Khalid Mahmod agree? The existing Perry Beeches Academy in that constituency has achieved fantastic results under Mr Nolan’s stewardship.
There are also new free schools approved for Darlington. Thurrock, Liverpool, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Brent and Southwark.
Labour’s claim that all these schools are just for the middle classes is not sustainable.