Blog Archive

Principal's Blog

2010 TERM 4


First or Last – Movement for Schooling Change

The British Conservative/Liberal Democratic Government recently passed legislation allowing for parent and community groups to start new schools, schools that would be fully government funded (and therefore free).  These schools are called Free Schools – in that they do not charge fees.  In the Australian context they would be called Private or Independent schools.  While in Australia such schools are currently fee charging due to a lack of government funding, these schools (in the UK) are fully government supported and therefore non-fee charging.  The following comes from the Department of Education (UK) website.

"Free Schools are all-ability state-funded schools set up in response to parental demand. The most important element of a great education is the quality of teaching and Free Schools will enable excellent teachers to create schools and improve standards for all children, regardless of their background.

Under the new plans it will become much easier for charities, universities, businesses, educational groups, teachers and groups of parents to get involved and start new schools. Ministers are working right across Government to remove red tape which can prevent new schools from setting up, ranging from planning laws to the Department’s own school premises rules.

Any groups interested in establishing a new Free School may contact the New Schools Network to discuss their ideas before filling out a proposal form."

This initiative was modelled on the Swedish education system, which has operated independent non-fee charging schools since 1992.
(This is exactly what we have been fighting for at FCS - for over 30 years.)


In British Columbia (Canada), the Ministry of Education has a very pro-parent choice mission.


"If parents find that the type of school they would like for their child is not available in their area, they are encouraged to take measures to establish one.  A brochure explains the steps parents can follow, including approaching schools in other districts that already offer the choice they are interested in to find out how they went about establishing the school, and approaching the local school board to discuss the proposal."
(Education Today, Term 3, 2010).

Sadly, in Australia, there in little momentum on the issue of giving parents a real choice in schooling, or increasing the diversity of the schools offered.  The major parties do not really make mention of this issue, while The Greens would remove the small window that currently exists allowing for the establishment of new schools while simultaneously quashing the diversity currently experienced.  Victoria and Australia’s smallest elected party, The Democratic Labor Party, stands out on these issues with policies and funding positions that uphold parent choice and offer measures that will make new schools, choice and diversity a reality.

In reflecting on change here in Australia, it is worth remembering that many schools (and kindergartens and childcare centres) are full many years in advance – the result of it being so hard to offer new alternatives in education.  I know of few families who have not been affected by this, so please, in speaking to politicians prior to the election, ask where they stand on this issue; and if they are unaware that there is another way, share the initiatives of Sweden, Britain and British Columbia with them. 


Blog Archive