Prime minister David Cameron praised The Free School Norwich, in his keynote speech at the Conservative conference, but attacked left-wingers who opposed it.

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He praised schools that had turned around their exam results since breaking free of council control, and in particular promoted his government’s ‘free schools’ policy.

Under the initiative any group or organisation can ask for money from central government to set up a school outside of local authority control.

In what was clearly a reference to The Free School Norwich set up by Tania Sidney-Roberts, he said: “When inspirational teachers and parents - in Hammersmith, in Norwich, in Bristol and in Wigan - wanted to open free schools, the left-wing establishment said no.”

He said: “When inspirational teachers and parents in Hammersmith, in Norwich, in Bristol and in Wigan, wanted to open free schools the left-wing establishment said no.

“When we proposed more pay for good teachers, getting rid of bad teachers, longer school days to help children learn, flexible school hours to help parents work, more stretching exams for those who are really able, less nonsense about health and safety, the left wing establishment have just said one thing, no.”

Mr Cameron visited the Surrey Street school in September last year.

Mr Cameron also said the UK could no longer assume it would be a great industrial nation and that education was critical to ensuring it was.

In his speech, he also defended his party’s economic plan, but admitted that it was taking longer for the economy to recover than he and his ministers had expected.

He said: “Now I know you are asking whether the plan is working. And here’s the truth; the damage was worse than we thought, and it’s taking longer than we hoped.”

He went on: “But here is the critical thing you need to know. Yes it’s worse than we thought, yes it’s taking longer, but we are making progress.”

Mr Cameron argued that Britain was a country “on the rise”, but that to achieve the government would have to continue to reform the welfare and public pension systems.

He also attacked Labour, a party he claimed would damage the UK’s economy by borrowing further. In a jibe at Ed Miliband’s “One Nation” speech he said that Labour was the party of “one notion”.

He also revealed the inspiration he drew from his “eternal optimist” father Ian in a deeply personal passage in his conference speech today.

The prime minister’s father died aged 77 following a stroke while on holiday in France in 2010, just four months after his son entered Downing Street.

The Conservative leader told activists at his party’s conference in Birmingham that his father “influenced me much more than I ever thought”.

16 comments

  • Daisy Roots, your interpretation of the Free School Norwich is so wrong, and calling the parents who have decided to give it a go 'cruel' is highly offensive. I am a tax payer and am pleased that some of my money is going to a school that is dedicated to each and every child that attends there. Money is thrown at state schools all of the time, millions are spent on the refurbishment of run down schools. The Free School Norwich had a budget of £1m. Yes there is a limited amount of outside space, but they are taken to the football ground each week and also go on trips way more than at my daughter's previous school. I drop them off at 9, pick them up at 3.30 and I am a working, but not cruel parent. For most of the parents, it has nothing to do with politics but everything to do with the child's education.

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    Cat77

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • Apologies for the knotted fingers-would is the word!

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • Daisy Roots - you are absolutely right. So many of these free schools are just not needed - as with the academy programme, they are a desperate attempt to support Dave and Gove's rich friends, removing local influence and centralising education.

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    Johnboy

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • Popeyes, your ignorance beggars belief. I guess u have been hired to make ridiculous statements to provoke responses. ..... sad!!

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Saturday, October 13, 2012

  • Daisy Roots - you are absolutely right. So many of these free schools are just not needed - as with the academy programme, they are a desperate attempt to support Dave and Gove's rich friends, removing local influence and centralising education.

    Report this comment

    Johnboy

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • This, as is usual for the Tories, is a heady mixture of hyperbole and downright lies. I realise that many Tories are dishonest, uncaring and totally selfish, but I didn't think they are quite so stupid or gullible as to fall for this tripe.

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    T Doff

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • ....just the questionable priorities of parents, who use convenience as the main criteria rather than quality.....Quality is an unknown quantity in new schools so we can't criticise parents for not using it as a criteria. Admittedly they have taken a chance, but I see it as equivalent to choosing a new restaurant when you know that all the other state run restaurants only offer a limited menu and close early every day.

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • small clarification - 'be edit' at the end of my last post should read 'benefit'

    Report this comment

    Row71

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • Following Ed`s hour and a bit diatribe about nothing in particular, which included a few distortions of the truth about our tax system, DC got it about right. Not a brilliant speech but one that everyone could understand. How we got in this mess, where we are now and what still needs to be done. I thought he struck the right tone.

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    BG

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • No announcement on anything that would lead to growth in his speech.

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • Cat77, I have no issue with parental choice as I believe one size does not fit all and having a variety of approaches will mean we can hopefully find the right environment which will bring out the best in our children and help them achieve their potential. However I take great issue with the notion that state schools have money "thrown at them". As a school governor at my child's primary school, I know that this is simply not the case. We have had to cut some really creative and innovative programmes because the money simply is not there to pay for them. And while I don't doubt your motives for sending your children to the free school, there are others who do use it for convenience. I was on a different forum the other week and one contributor stated they chose the Free School because their term dates were structured in such a way that they were able to be edit from cheap holidays!

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    Row71

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • Norwich Free School is based on a unique plan by a dedicated educator ... It offers choice... an alternative... from the same old same old of County Schools... schools in which teachers are fettered and forced into one style of teaching... Parents recognise this and want this alternative.. This is the main reason Norwich Free School is so popular. My main criticism is of free schools 'elsewhere' where they have been set up as profit making enterprises for private companies who want to run Tesco like 'chains' of such schools. Free schools won't disappear under a Labour government... that much is apparent, despite any rhetoric... the profit motive may be removed. Norwich Free School incidentally employs fully qualified teachers... many County schools I know place unqualified staff in front of classes of children...as cost cutting measures. Cameron does not impress me however (remember Academy schools began under Labour) and I look forward to casting my vote to oust the ConDems

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    Mike

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • Out of touch and losing his battle so........attack. Naturally, these 2 would be praised since they represent only 9% of all HTs and Governors and have sucked up to this Government relentlessly. It is a HUGE mistake to only listen to and praise those who sing your song!!!!! ONLY 9.3% of schs have gone done this rd.......I wonder why.

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    Sportswagon

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

  • ....one contributor stated they chose the Free School because their term dates were structured in such a way that they were able to be benefit from cheap holidays! ....Well spotted N, a strong argument against free schools. Let's close them all now before too many parents use this as a criteria to choose them, even if free schools do prove offer a far better education.

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    Rhombus

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • I owukd not describe my self as left wing but I certainly oppose free schools.I think that diverting funding into schools run for and by minority groups, religions and those who want quasi private schools on the tax payer is just wrong. The Norwich Free school is on a site which would never have been contemplated for a state school-verges on the cruel sticking kids in there all day, no playground to speak of, traffic fumes from the bus station, no playing field. just so working parents can dump their kids early and collect them late or the paranoid who think their little darlings above and beyond state education don't have to stick their hands in their pockets. Cameron is as wrong to accuse those who oppose his policies of being left wing as Brown was to accuse those who question the impact of immigration of being bigots

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    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • Hello again Popeye. Not sure you've read my comment properly. I said I wasn't against different approaches as one size doesn't fit all - so I'm not sure how that equates to saying Free Schools are bad and should be closed. My issue was with the comment that State schools have money thrown at them which is simply not the case. Not all state schools are bad and equally I'm sure not all Free Schools will be good - it's certainly far too early to pronounce them a huge success, they need time to bed in and lets see what happens. As for the other issue you quoted me on - I still fail to see how choosing a school based on the ability to take cheap holidays has anything to do with the quality of education on offer at that school. I have not passed any comment on the quality of education on offer, just the questionable priorities of parents, who use convenience as the main criteria rather than quality. The Free School may well offer good education - I have no direct experience of it so will not pass comment.

    Report this comment

    Row71

    Friday, October 12, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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