This is another comment I’d like to pick up and highlight. It’s too important to be allowed to be ‘lost’ in a long and very interesting thread. It’s about what Alan Swindell wrote in the SWSF document (which my post deals with, see reference there), specifically this part:
The debate within our schools and the SWSF on how to respond to internet critics is ongoing. Digital platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Mumsnet mean that they can reach a wider audience than ever before and in immediate response to breaking news: there is no doubt that any school advancing along the path toward Free School Status will become an immediate focus. At present there is a policy of non-engagement, not least because the alternative can waste a huge amount of time. We monitor and respond with simple statements that direct people to appropriate web-sites. This is probably experienced as dismissive and arrogant by some critics but it is not about to change, however we are always ready to respond to defamation, personal attacks and anything that would be deemed illegal outside of the internet.
Right: libel reform.
If Alan Swindell and co intended to sue a mother who dared to write something detrimental on mumsnet, or Prof David Colquhoun (who he’s too scared even to mention – he should be too) or Dan Dugan, or me for daring to tweet to so many education journalists, and historians (I have a lot of historians following me for some reason, I bet they’re really dangerous) he could have done so by now. Writing on the internet is no defence, and they know it.
All this posturing is for a tiny audience, and what they really really don’t want is a very big audience.
The Free Schools business is going to be very tough, deliberately so. BBC today:
This is the crux of it. What right do you have, Steiner movement, not to be analysed? Not to face questions about your pedagogy, the basis of your pedagogy, the books your teachers read, the Ofsted (and let’s be honest SIS) reports on your schools? What gives you the right to secure millions, especially at a time of such austerity, without facing the same scrutiny as any other education system? Who do you think you are?
It should be enough, you think, to let things go on as before. To let you decide how your movement is portrayed, with only positive PR/newspaper articles, only chirpy ‘adventures in education’. But the problem is that this isn’t the truth.
You want our money, no questions asked. Come on, boys and girls – no one’s allowed to do that. And now Free Schools will have to compete for funding and prove there’s real demand, not just pretend there is (hiding the brisk turnover in existing schools). You can’t go on blaming Dan Dugan. You would do better, frankly, to blame Sune.