Campaign attack on free school bid in West Bridgford and Arnold 'chaos'
CAMPAIGNERS have blasted plans for free schools in West Bridgford and Arnold.
The group Notts Hands Off Our Schools hit out at proposals to create 1,200 extra secondary school places by September 2018.
They say free schools take away the democratic accountability of local councils .
Spokesman Alan Darley said: "Free schools replace the proper strategic educational planning and provision of the local authority with the chaos of a market free-for-all.
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"Free schools mean that our education system is being privatised, like the NHS, right under our noses."
Torch Academy Gateway Trust, headed by John Tomasevic, principal at Toot Hill Academy in Bingham, wants to open the Trent Bridge Free School in West Bridgford and the Nottingham Free School in Arnold.
But Mr Darley added: "These schools will threaten existing provision in the area and create a chaos in the allocation of school places.
"A new free school is likely to create a problem of surplus places leading to unnecessary competition and schools with many places unfilled, with the resulting negative effects on school budgets."
He said the demand could easily be met by existing schools.
Free schools are able to control their intake, which the 70 supporters of the Notts Hands Off Our Schools campaign claim will lead to them harvesting the most able students and discarding the less able.
Mr Darley said: "Like the US Charter schools and the Swedish free schools which they are modelled on, there is no evidence that free schools raise standards, so there is no reason to expect them to benefit education in Nottingham."
But John Tomasevic, chief executive of the trust seeking to set up the free schools, said that they would have a stronger focus on individual pupils than a school which was expanding to accommodate growing pupil numbers.
He said: "We are proposing a small, personal school where learning strategies are tailored to the individual and where each child is important."