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Free schools taking lower numbers of deprived pupils

A primary school governer has used FoIA to reveal that 23 of the 24 free schools which opened in September are taking only half the number of deprived children compared to other state schools in the country, the Guardian reports.

Under the act, the schools were forced to disclose that the percentage of children claiming free school meals was just 9.4% – around half of the 18% that claim nationally, according to Department for Education Statistics. To qualify for free school meals a child’s family must earn under £16,000.

The news contradicts the claim of education secretary Michael Gove, who said that free schools would empower working class families and improve education across the country’s poorest regions. Many of the schools are located in these areas but are failing to take representative numbers of children from deprived families.

The Guardian reports that the school governer and FoIA requester, Rachel Gooch, used the information she obtained to do further research.

“Gooch compared the intake of disadvantaged children at each of the free schools with the five nearest schools for pupils of a similar age group. She found that all but one of the free schools were taking fewer deprived pupils than average for their neighbouring schools.

“The data she received showed that on average, a quarter of children attending the five schools nearest to each of the free schools were eligible for subsidised lunches, compared with just one in 11 of the pupils at the free schools.

“At the West London Free School, founded by the journalist and author Toby Young, just over 23% of pupils are eligible for free lunches, compared with just over 32% in the five neighbouring schools. At Batley grammar school, a free school in Kirklees, just 4.3% of pupils are eligible for free school meals, compared with 19% in the five neighbouring schools.”

Scotland’s university principals feast on their institutions’ expense

The Scotsman has used Freedom of Information Act requests to reveal that while students are protesting over higher tuition fees, a number of university heads benefit from free private residencies as well as paid-for access to a string of exclusive clubs and societies. Among them are Principals Louise Richardson of St Andrews University and Dame Joan Stringer, of Edinburgh Napier who each enjoy a 1,000 per year membership at Athenaeum Club.

Leeds schools report thousands of racist incidents

Leeds schools have recorded 1,000 racist incidents during the last year, a FoIA investigation by the Yorkshire Evening Post has revealed. The newspaper reports that from 2010 to 2011, 577 incidents were recorded in primary schools and 409 in secondary schools. The incidents ranged from verbal abuses to threatening behaviour, physical assault, malicious phone calls and damage to property. The figure was a decline from the previous year when 1,323 incidents were reported.

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