Schools: Faith Schools and Free Schools — Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:06 pm on 28th January 2015.

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Photo of Baroness King of Bow Baroness King of Bow Labour 3:06 pm, 28th January 2015

My Lords, will the Minister confirm that the only way to establish a faith school—like any new school—is via the free schools programme? Some of the problems that we have seen with faith schools are therefore evident more widely—namely, lack of oversight and lack of qualified teachers. As with the Al-Madinah free school and others, that lack of oversight and the presence of unqualified teachers have damaged the education of children in communities in Derby, Durham and Crawley, where free schools have had to close. I know that the Minister will say that many free schools are excellent, and he is right: free schools, like state schools, can be outstanding or inadequate. However, I hope he will agree that that is not the point. The point is that, unlike state schools, free schools can employ unqualified teachers and avoid robust scrutiny. When will the Government better protect and scrutinise the education of children in free schools?