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Page last updated at 09:08 GMT, Friday, 18 June 2010 10:08 UK

The free schools debate

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The government will today publish details of how parents, teachers and other groups can set up schools in England.

Mick Brookes of the National Association of Head Teachers told the Today programme that he was "very concerned" about the funding of free schools.

"Money will be taken from all the other schools in an area", he commented, "and we will see state sector schools falling back into dilapidation".

Mark Lehain, a teacher from Bedford rejected claims that state schools will suffer as a consequence. "My understanding is that an awful lot of this money will come from stripping out a lot of the overheads and bureaucratic processes."

"The key difference is schools in the school system at the moment are not purely accountable to the parents of the students that they teach. They have accountability to Whitehall, they have accountability to local politicians."

"This is about giving ordinary parents choices" he said.

When questioned about the expertise of the people involved in setting up free schools, Mr Lehain said that "where we recognise that we don't have expertise within the existing group, we would go out and recruit people accordingly".

Lesley Surman, a mother from West Yorkshire, explained how a shortage of school places was forcing parents in her area to take control of a school earmarked for closure.

"Every child should have a school place," she said.


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