Letters, Monday, December 2, 2013

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All is not rosy at new free schools

I WOULD like to take issue with Robert Oliver, leader of the Conservative Group Sunderland, that there should be more free schools in Sunderland (November 26).

 Mr Oliver, the only teacher I know who thinks Education Secretary Michael Gove is doing a good job, began his argument with a totally false statistic. He claimed free schools are doing better than state schools, which is untrue.

 According to the BBC, the latest Ofsted data reveals that a higher proportion of state schools are rated good or outstanding compared with free schools.

 Mr Oliver paints a rosy picture, but I feel that it is important that parents are made aware of the following points. Firstly, there are many free schools that employ ‘teachers’ who are not qualified. A recent advertisement for a maths teacher in a free school required applicants to have four GCSE passes A-C grade.

 As a parent, I feel very strongly that my child is taught by qualified teaching staff, and I am amazed that, as a teacher, Mr Oliver would support the creation of organisations which undermine his own profession.

 The recent inspection findings at Al-Madinah free school in Derby shows exactly what can happen when people who know very little about education are allowed to set up and run a school.

 Ofsted Inspectors described the school as dysfunctional and in chaos. There have been significant questions about the misuse of public finance it has received. Proper police checks of staff were found not to be carried out. Staff were described as inexperienced with insufficient training.

 Speaking in Parliament following the inspection findings, Labour’s Education spokesman Tristram Hunt said the Ofsted report was a “devastating blow to the education secretary’s flagship policy”. He said: “It reveals that pupils have been failed on every possible measure and parents will want to know why the education secretary has allowed this to happen.” Mr Oliver appears to be accusing Sunderland’s Labour Council of being overly cautious in its approach to free schools.

  If this is the case, then they should be applauded, as Sunderland needs protecting from a Government which puts its own ideological views ahead of the needs of our children.

 There is no doubt that in the event that the Conservatives win the next election, there will be many more free schools. Therefore the message is clear – if you want your children taught by unqualified teachers, led by headteachers with no accountability – vote Conservative.

R Scott

Ridiculous petition

AT the tender age of 71, I thought not many things could surprise me, but I am wrong – yet again. One hundred and twenty-five thousand people have signed a petition against the Sun’s Page Three semi-nude pictures of women.

 Students should be more interested in world peace, cures for cancer, wastage of money on the Hadron Collider, the fact that England gives India £284million in aid and India spend £45million to send an unmanned rocket to Mars, 80,000 homeless children are expected to spend Christmas in B&Bs, £6,000 per month is being spent on pest control at Westminster, the NHS in is heading back to the days before Florence Nightingale, benefit cheats are caught fiddling £273million a year, embassies in England owe our Government millions of pounds in unpaid parking fees – students are allowed to waste time on a petition against a newspaper’s Page Three topless model. If this is what our students are doing then it’s time Sunderland University Control Board took a good, hard look at life. Petition against maintenance on site, lack of accommodation, bad food, no parking on site, time wasted in classrooms – “yes” – but Page Three – God help this country.

Mr J Stott,

Blackfell

Mam on the mend

I WOULD like to thank the lady in the white car who stopped to help my mam when she collapsed in Roker Park Road.

 Thank you for your kindness, it was much appreciated.

 I am pleased to say she is getting better.

Mrs L Wilson,

High Barnes