The majority of grant-maintained schools are schools like my own, a community comprehensive and proud of it. We changed status quite late on, and well after the almost obscene, excessive funding of GM schools had, quite rightly, been ended.
As the worst-funded local education authority secondary school per capita in the county, we just didn't have enough money to resource our students' education and were convinced, and we now know rightly convinced, that we could spend the money the LEA had kept back from us more effectively and far more specifically for the educational benefit of the students. We have involved the whole community in helping determine the principles, values and aims of the school.
We never saw ourselves as part of some GM crusade and have had no time for the likes of Pauline Latham and Andrew Turner who speak for themselves, not us, and have had their own political agendas which we never accepted.
As a foundation school of the future, we would happily support the addition of LEA governors, locally-planned admission arrangements, the ending of talk of selection and the removal of any capital or Grants for Education Support and Training funding that has favoured us in relation to LEA schools.
What we do wish to keep is our independence, albeit in co-operation with all other local schools. Above all, we want to preserve 100 per cent funding, for it is this that is so vital in that it gives a school the crucial margin of extra money that makes all the difference between an adequately and inadequately resourced school. We cannot afford in these hard times to see the LEA keep back some of this money to spend in ways that do not directly relate to the raising of achievements of our students and the provision of a high quality education.
Some schools will clearly be happy working in partnership with the LEA as community schools and accepting in consequence 90 per cent funding. We, however, are not. If foundation schools are to be a meaningful and practical concept, then we believe 100 per cent funding is an essential requirement.
TONY STEPHENS Headteacher Mill Hill School Ripley Derbyshire