Free Schools - a Scottish perspective
Jonathan Calder has blogged
that liberals shouldn't be concerned about Free Schools making profits so much as about ensuring that they're open to all. As usual, I completely agree with him. The fundamental idea behind Free Schools is liberal. Genuine parental choice and control over the school they send their children to is something that every Lib Dem should be fighting to achieve.
In Scotland we have probably the most uniform education system in Western Europe. In terms of attainment Scottish schools have been stagnating over the past decade in comparison with their counterparts South of the border. I'd love to see some of the Coalition's ideas imported to my area. Watching my fellow party members at the Liverpool conference last year vote to condemn the free schools policy was utterly bemusing. How can you have freedom without choice? If the ability to make profits would attract innovative new providers to the market and improve the choices available to people on lower incomes then why shouldn't we do that too?
The last thing that the Liberal Democrats should be is a party run by and for middle class public sector professionals. The needs of the public sector are not the needs of the people who currently rely on the public sector. In terms of our attitude to public services, particularly in Scotland, it's time that the Lib Dems had a long hard think.
Labels: Free Schools, Public Sector, Scotland