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School dream or nightmare?

Len Tingle | 18:02 UK time, Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Queen's speech

It has been a dream of the parents of the West Yorkshire suburbs of Birkenshaw, Birstall and Gomersal to have their own senior school virtually within walking distance of their homes.

Today that dream came a little closer as the Queen announced that her new Government's legislative timetable will include the powers for parent and community groups to take a chunk of the budget of their local education authority and set up and run their own schools.

But 30 miles along the M62 that new legislation is a nightmare for five dilapidated senior schools clustered around Pontefract, Normanton and Castleford which are on the point of being refurbished or replaced.

Elizabeth Churton, the Principal of Knottingly High School and Sports College told me that she fears the pot of educational finance available to ordinary schools could become smaller if the "free schools" get the go-ahead.

Her local MP is Yvette Cooper, whose husband Ed Balls vetoed parent-run schools as Labour's School's Secretary.

Today Yvette Cooper said that it would be a mistake to reduce spending on conventional schools and switch it to the Conservatives.

It could be a major change in the schools system.

Trade Unions who are against this move say they have identified 200 groups around the country are poised to start the process of creating a new generation of state funded "free schools".


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