In England, the Free School movement is mostly widely associated with Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove. The basic tenor of the policy is that the Local Education Authorities administered by the Local Authorities were holding back achievement in schools and that giving schools the independence to experiment in learning would drive up standards. Effectively this brought schools more broadly into a consumerist and market driven economy.
What would happen to those children who attended a Free School which did not deliver results was not a key consideration. Nor was thought given to the methodologies considered by Free Schools – as long as they delivered results they would have justified themselves. The transfer of property and resource from the public to private sector is a considerable gamble driven by an ideological view which sees the ‘market’ as the best place to deliver quality – whatever the evidence to the contrary seems to be saying.
Ironically, given its free market drivers, the best historical comparison I can make to the Free School policy was Chairman Mao’s ‘One Hundred Flowers’ campaign in communist China in which everyone was allowed to contend to design economic systems for the country. The result was a generation of chaos and lost opportunities with resources diverted to support hare brain and contradictory systems.
As part of the justification for the strategy, the Policy Exchange, a right-wing think tank, has published a report validating the policy. The Institute of Education, an organisation constrained by the concept of evidence based research, takes issue with their conclusions in this recent blog: Free school effects: an impartial review | IOE LONDON BLOG