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Furious row erupts over proposed free school in Cradley
11:19am Thursday 28th April 2011 in News
A SENIOR councillor has voiced serious concerns about the proposed Future Free School in Cradley and Cradley Heath.
The Future Education Trust last week unveiled plans to run a small secondary school for upto 200 pupils and announced it was looking for suitable sites locally.
Representatives from the Trust have held meetings with local politicians including Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris, Cradley Heath and Old Hill Councillor Liz Bowler and Cradley and Wollescote Councillor Tim Crumpton in a bid to get support for the school.
However, Councillor Crumpton is troubled by the proposed Future Free School and questioned the credentials of the organisation behind it.
He said: “I have done some digging and I have serious reservations about the whole project and I certainly do not want the people of Cradley getting their hopes up that a replacement for Cradley High School is a realistic prospect.
“The people behind it seem nice enough when I met them but I seriously believe this organisation is way out of its depth.
He added: “There are some glaring errors in the literature, for instance they refer to a ‘Ministry for Education’ when in the UK there is no such thing.
Cllr Crumpton also contacted the lecturer that is listed as Chair of Governors on the Free School’s website, Dr Ian Williams, who specialises in Muslim education.
In an email to Cllr Crumpton Dr Williams seemed to baulk at the idea of being Chair of Governors, he said: “I am involved in the Free School project though not as clearly defined as the web-site indicates.”
Cllr Crumpton said: “I find it strange that the academic lending his name to the project is an expert in Muslim studies and seems to point that this will in fact be a faith school, which is mentioned nowhere in the literature.
“They talk about a 4plus1 Education Philosophy and there is next to nothing on the internet about this except a religious school somewhere in America.”
“Free schools are a project of Michael Gove’s imagination and I firmly believe they have no place in Dudley borough.”
Mustafa Erol, a Future Education Trust director, hit back at Cllr Crumpton’s claims.
He said: “Our school will be a mainstream school and not a faith school and we have people of all different religions involved.
“We have the credentials to do this as our teaching team and governors, which Dr Williams agreed to be chair, has decades and decades of experience in the education system.
“I do not understand why Cllr Crumpton has said this but I think the best thing that people can do is come to our public consultation on May 15 and see for themselves what we are offering.”
A public consultation meeting is being held at Cradley Liberal Club on Sunday, May 15 between 2pm and 5pm where parents are invited to learn more about the Future Free School.