A proposed ‘free school’ for Cradley Heath in the Black Country is criticised by a local senior councillor. Councillor Tim Crumpton isn’t exactly a fan of ‘free schools’ in general, describing them as “a project of Michael Gove’s imagination”. But he explains that he’s done some digging and it shouldn’t be ignored. Some basic research unearths some religious affiliations, unstated by the trust which wants to run the school, and an odd relationship with the Muslim education expert who’s supposed to be its Chair of the Governors, but doesn’t know that he is.
[Councillor Crumpton said:] “There are some glaring errors in the literature, for instance they refer to a ‘Ministry for Education’ when in the UK there is no such thing.
Cllr Crumpton also contacted the lecturer that is listed as Chair of Governors on the Free School’s website, Dr Ian Williams, who specialises in Muslim education.
In an email to Cllr Crumpton Dr Williams seemed to baulk at the idea of being Chair of Governors, he said: “I am involved in the Free School project though not as clearly defined as the web-site indicates.”
Cllr Crumpton said: “I find it strange that the academic lending his name to the project is an expert in Muslim studies and seems to point that this will in fact be a faith school, which is mentioned nowhere in the literature.
“They talk about a 4plus1 Education Philosophy and there is next to nothing on the internet about this except a religious school somewhere in America.”
“Free schools are a project of Michael Gove’s imagination and I firmly believe they have no place in Dudley borough.”
A spokesperson for the trust denies that the school would be a ‘faith’ school and said, “We have the credentials to do this as our teaching team and governors, which Dr Williams agreed to be chair, has decades and decades of experience in the education system.”
A public consultation meeting is being held at Cradley Liberal Club on Sunday, May 15 (2pm to 5pm).