'Free' Schools and IT - Discussion
I've just had an interesting conversation with someone enquiring whether we, at EduGeek, knew anything about the provision of IT and its support within the 'free' schools now appearing in England. If you have been living under a rock in the UK for the past couple of years, free schools were an election pledge by the new government which would allow communities and organisations to setup their own independently run schools, funded by the govt, that are outside of the national curriculum and can employ anyone they like to teach. These schools could be set up by remote communities, local corporate sponsors and faith/belief groups amongst others. As of yet, the anticipated number of these schools has only reached 79 and I suspect many will be watching with interest to see how they fare.
Apart from some basic research about a year back I had drawn a blank as to finding out anything (including how to apply to set one up!) at all about them and left it at that. Anyway, I had a rather pleasant chat with my caller and noted down a few points that were raised which I think that you, our members would both like to know about and possibly provide some answers for. So, in no particular order here are some points that, if you can, we'd like to have some answers for.
- Who provides the IT for free schools? Not only the equipment but the support? Bearing in mind that these schools are free from the national curriculum would they be required to have any at all apart for admin use?
- If it were a faith/belief school, would they only employ people of the same faith/belief for not only teaching, but IT support as well (if anyone can answer for current faith schools as well it would be handy)?
- If a school was to be set up on the basis of a faith/belief and was to introduce web filtering at what point would it cross the divide between filtering and censorship i.e. blocking materiel that provided an opposing view to the schools faith/belief even if that material was proven to be correct, and if you were employed in such a role, how would you view that?
I know that there are a lot of hypothetical points here, but if your are, or have been involved with setting up and supporting IT in free schools we'd like to hear your views, especially on point one. If any of you have any comments or thoughts please feel free to add them.