More “Free Schools” to Open in England

October 6, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. set up (phrasal v.) 
[set-uhp] – to create or to make something for a specific reason
Example: My friend and I want to set up our own computer software company.

2. pioneer (adj.) [pahy-uh-neer– being the first of a group or set of something
Example: The company released the pioneer batch of their new products to selected malls.

3. abandon (v.) [uh-ban-duh n] – to stop helping or supporting someone or something
Example: The funding organization abandoned the project because of the economic problems.

4. lay off (phrasal v.) [ley] [awf, of] – to remove an employee from work
Example: The employee was laid off because he violated the company rule.

5. dismantle (v.) [dis-man-tl] – to break apart
Example: It is hard to dismantle the machine because of its small parts.

Read the text below.

The UK government announced that fifty-five new “free schools” plan to open this year in England.

The “free schools” is a major project by Education Secretary Michael Gove’s. These free schools can be set up by parents, teachers, charities, businesses, universities, and voluntary or religious groups. Such schools are funded by the central government, but local government authorities have no control over them in terms of how these schools train children or manage funds.

According to Gove, free schools can offer more parents and their children the chance and the choice to go to excellent schools without paying expensive fees for high quality education.

The pioneer batch of free schools, 24 schools in all, opened in September last year. Gove said these schools have become popular and successful.

However, Gove has received many criticisms regarding the policy. Critics say that large amounts of public funds have been spent on free schools that were discontinued or abandoned.

Many teachers also reported that they were laid off when free schools took the place of schools run by the local government.

Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers said the policy dismantles the local education system. The local education system makes local governments responsible for schools, but free schools can be set up by any sponsor who may not have good management skills or experience. Chris Keates from the union said free schools also divide the limited budget for other public schools.

Despite the criticisms, the program will continue. An additional 114 schools are expected to be set up next year.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         What do you think is the advantage of schools that are not under the government’s control?
·         Do you think setting up free schools in your country would be helpful? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What do you think is the main reason for a school’s success (e.g., students, teachers, facilities)?
·         If you were to set up your own school, what kind of school would it be? How would it be different from other schools?


October 6, 2012