What makes it free?

I DON’T know whether to support the free school initiative or not.

The aspirations expressed on the Chichester Free School website are excellent but would surely be those of all schools.

So what makes a free school different from other schools? What would it be free from, and what would it be free to do? It would seem to be free from the constraints of the National Curriculum but would nevertheless have to submit its children to the SATs of Key Stage Two.

It would be free from funding issues of the local authority but exposed to the financial demands of central government. It would not be free to exclude religious education or a daily act of worship.

Presumably the greatest freedom would be in determining the size of the school and its age range. But here also there are dilemmas: a small school enables closer relations between teachers, children and parents but reduces the range of expertise which staff can provide and limits the range of facilities.

What makes a free school free?

Brian Allen

Birdham