I am sorry that Fiona Millar constantly seeks to diminish the efforts of dedicated parents, teachers and charities who simply want to improve education for children in their area (Fiona Millar ‘Why free schools will cost our children and society dear’, Yorkshire Post 11 February 2011). Contrary to what she claims, free schools will not allow ‘covert selection’, cause a threat to community cohesion or receive preferential funding. They will follow the same legal admissions procedures as other schools, and will be monitored by Ofsted and the government.
They will simply be state-funded schools established where there is local demand from parents for a good and new type of school for their children.
The truth is that top-down solutions of the sort favoured by Fiona Millar have not worked, despite the best efforts of teachers and heads. By freeing up the system we are giving local groups of parents and teachers the opportunity to increase choice and raise standards. The fact that we have had such a strong response - over 250 proposals already shows that there is a great deal of enthusiasm for the idea of free schools. I am glad to be on the side of parents, charities and committed teachers who are trying to make things better and am sorry that the forces of conservatism represented by Fiona Millar want to snuff that diversity out.