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Free Schools??

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by mabbi, Sep 22, 2019.

  1. mabbi

    mabbi New commenter

    Does anyone know anything about working in a Free School? I haven't met a single person with any knowledge!
  2. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    If you're going to sup with the devil take a very long spoon.
    Rach05, mothorchid and Idiomas11 like this.
  3. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    Its no different to working in any other school. I have done in the past. I don't any more. No differences at all, for a normal teacher just getting on with teaching.
    Pomza likes this.
  4. DrJay

    DrJay Occasional commenter

    Some of these are at the high end - with a mixture of day and boarding, they're like private schools without parental pressure and children's sense of "my parents are paying for this". Whilst some are newly founded, others (e.g. Gordon's School in Woking and Wymondham College in Norfolk) are quite old. Of course, you've also got the legendary Michaela Community School in Wembley. Mostly rated Outstanding by Ofsted, they produce, year on year, some great GCSE and A-Level results.

    That said, be careful of Free Schools nested within Academy chains where the Executive Heads are earning fat cat salaries. Do your research on the FS in question, and you should be able to make informed decision.
  5. mabbi

    mabbi New commenter

    Fairly 50/50 so far!!
  6. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    These are both academies, not free schools.
    The first free schools opened in 2011, so none are especially old.

    They are very dependent on the proprietor and ethos.
    Some are probably lovely and some terrible, bit like any other type of school.

    Read any proposed contract very carefully before you sign.
    Piranha likes this.
  7. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Free schools are academics and Michaela is indeed a free school...
  8. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    They’ve only had one set of GCSE results and I think their 6th form has only just opened! (Watch out for spiders...)
  9. mabbi

    mabbi New commenter

    I know that unions are not recognised and neither is the burgundy book. Both of these things concern me. I just wondered whether anyone on here could testify that those facts alone do not necessarily make them bad places to work in. Presumably, if they were that bad nobody would be there at all!?
  10. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    I really wouldn't take the view "if they were that bad, nobody would be there."

    I know two people who went to work in Free Schools. Both left after a term. Both cited ridiculous hours, lack of proper facilities, and the fact that the lack of proper facilities meant a lop sided curriculum.

    I will also add that any school that does not recognise the rights of staff to be in a Union and the fact that there are basic standards to be maintained is a bad place to work.
  11. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    This could just there is no recognition agreement with unions. A good union rep may well have started that process. It take a fair bit of time, so a new free school won't have that in place.

    Many independent schools are in exactly the same position, but are lovely places to work.
    Some LA schools have both in place and are hell on earth.

    No union recognition doesn't necessarily mean the school doesn't recognise the rights of staff to be in one. It could just be that there are no bargaining rights when setting up policies and the like, due to no formal agreement.

    A decent place to work is wholly dependent on the general decency of the head and SLT. If they are genuinely good people with staff and pupil's best needs at heart, then it will be a lovely place to work.
    muddyjudiff and freckle06 like this.
  12. mabbi

    mabbi New commenter

    Correct. Sorry. Staff are expected to be in a union but union action is not recognised. I'm just not sure what that means. Should I be expected to undertake an unreasonable amount of work, presumably I would have no protection because there isn't a 'rule book' to refer to.
  13. mabbi

    mabbi New commenter

    And herein lies my concern; I don't know whether SLT are decent or not and can't find anyone to ask. I know that all school moves are a risk, but this feels like more of one.
  14. DrJay

    DrJay Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the observation. You’re absolutely right. Both are academies...results to which I referred have been excellent year after year and both rated Outstanding by Ofsted.
  15. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Exactly this.
    It is much more of a risk.
    Can you go for a visit and get a feel for the place?
  16. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I wouldn't personally go anywhere near a free school.
  17. muddyjudiff

    muddyjudiff New commenter

    I did a day of supply at a free school that I discovered later was rated 'inadequate'.

    Books not marked. Kids unresponsive to instructions / little interest in learning anything. Classroom a mess. Didn't get a break or lunch.
  18. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    This bit is a positive!
  19. muddyjudiff

    muddyjudiff New commenter

    You may have a point there - not sure these lot had received any form of feedback though!
  20. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    I have visited one as an IT trainer. Lovely atmosphere, very relaxed about forthcoming inspection; children clearly happy and learning, staff seemed to be very positive and a coherent team. Of course I was only a visitor (perhaps 3 visits) but it was a place I felt I'd like to work in.
    No idea about any other free school, of course.

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