GM schools: what sort of future do they face?

4th July 1997 at 01:00
For the umpteenth time, it is reported that "most of the 1,100 grant-maintained schools are expected to opt to become foundation schools" on the ending of GM status (TES, June 27). Why?

One quarter of GM schools were previously voluntary-aided, so a change to foundation status would mean losing the majority group of governors common to both VA and GM schools - but not to foundation schools. Since most are church schools, with these governors appointed by the church authorities, it seems most unlikely that they will vote to relinquish their position and influence. Aided status will surely appeal more.

Foundation schools are to hold their own premises in trust, and employ their own staff. But will either of these differences bring sufficient benefit to warrant the extra work and responsibility - especially with funding basically the same as for community schools?

It seems likely that local education authorities, once they have slightly more to invest in their schools than at present, will be more inclined to promote developments through community schools than through schools which have chosen deliberately to reject such a title (and status) in favour of one which implies a degree of separation from the rest; all the more so if this also implies higher status (and lower need). Will parents want their children's schools to be outside the potentially exciting mainstream, in pursuit of the Government's ambitious targets for raising standards?

MARTIN ROGERS, Local Schools Information, 1-5 Bath Street, London EC1

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