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Halton Labour councillors oppose free school

The Runcorn and Widnes World reports that Labour councillors in Halton are opposing plans for a free school in their borough.

Cllr John Swain, the board member for children and young people, said:

“There are already sufficient secondary places available. Another school would clearly have a negative impact on existing schools.

“It would drain students away and our schools’ funding and numbers would go down. Money follows the pupils.

“We are delighted with the way our schools perform.

The Council's executive board report stated:

“Ormiston Bolingbroke and The Grange are operating significantly below capacity.

“Any further loss may impact on their future sustainability and would certainly mean they would have to look to reduce staffing.”

But the council rather misses the point. If Halton parents were as "delighted" with the existing choice of schools as the council then there would be no interest in the free school. But while there are surplus places at bad schools the problem for the council is that Halton parents want to send their children to good schools.

This is not to suggest that all the existing local schools  are bad. Wade Deacon High School is excellent - and oversubscribed. But the overall performance of Halton schools in GCSE results is below the national average. At The Grange, for example, only 43% of pupils get decent GCSEs. Would the councillors and bureaucrats who claim to be "delighted" at this performance be happy to send their own children to the school? I suspect not. Yet they quite brazenly want to force others to do so.


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