Help needed! Is there a "Petition Format" to protest formally to the DfE about free schools?

Georgina Sait's picture
Does anyone have a copy of a printed petition in a format acceptable to the DFE that we could use for our local campaign against a free school? We are looking into getting one posted online, but would like to set up a stall in town and speak directly with people. We have emailed the DFE for details of appropriate formats, but are not expecting a prompt response. Thanks.
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Tracy Hannigan's picture
Sat, 21/05/2011 - 10:24

Hi Georgina. To my knowledge the DfE has no preferred format; it is unclear how they take these into account in the first place. The consultation report gets written by the local authority and the proposers for consideration by the SOS - however, all is not lost!

Your local authority is supposed to represent the views of the local people, so be sure whatever you do vis a petition is more geared toward them, but copy it to the SOS. Be sure you follow any local authority regulations (sometimes in a consultaiton they won't accept a petition collected during the period because there is already a way to provide input) -however usually a petition can be collected before or after, and you can set something up which makes it easy for local people to write letters to their representatives on top of participating in the local consultation process. Check with your local authority to see what their requirements are. If you get enough signatures, some authorities give the opportunity to present the petition personally to the cabinet where you can make a statement as well.

We did a number of things that successfully put a free school on the back foot and I'd be more than happy to discuss. Check out our website at for a sample of our runnning petition, and a page outlining letter writing.

Elsewhere there is also a forum in development which may be of help to you as well, but its not quite ready yet. Please email me at, happy to talk further...

Francis Gilbert's picture
Sat, 21/05/2011 - 11:14

Contact the DfE immediately (see below for how to do this)

My post on transparency is relevant, links to relevant sites are there:

My suggestions are:

Write to your local MP if the school is in your area.
Draw together a group of concerned community members and contact the press as a group.
The Anti-Academies Alliance was set up to campaign about these issues and may be worth contacting.
Contact the local and national press and inform them of your worries.
Put in a Freedom of Information request by contacting the Department for Education (click here to access contact form) and ask for the details you need to know: make sure you tick Freedom of Information box.
Discuss your worries on relevant websites such as this one, Mumsnet, the TES, the Guardian Education.
Contact the school directly and ask them to provide them with the relevant information. If they refuse to provide it, ask them why and publicise their lack of transparency.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 21/05/2011 - 14:19

The NASUWT has lots of resources (including downloadable posters) and information about opposing free schools:

Ben Taylor's picture
Sat, 21/05/2011 - 19:49

From the NUT's own survey;

"Opinion was evenly divided among parents on the need for a new school with 47% of parents saying there was a strong need (19%) or some need (28%) whilst 46% thought there was no need. A further eight per cent said they did not know."

So where's the NUT help for these parents?

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 22/05/2011 - 07:31

NUT info here is in the link below. However, it doesn't include downloadable resources as the NASUWT so I didn't provide the link to Georgina. And Ben, a correct interpretation of the figures you have given is 47% of parents said there was either a strong need or some need. The way you have presented the stats is that 47% of parents said "there was a strong need". You only get 47% if you add "strong need" and "some need" together. I'm sure you would object if the NUT (or others) had added the "some need" parents to the "no need" ones. This would have given a figure of 74% which could be interpreted (misleadingly) to say 74% of parents say there is not a strong need to have a new school.

Paul Atherton's picture
Mon, 06/06/2011 - 07:13

In all fairness Janet, I don't think Ben intended to have you read it that way. I did the same as you did, then re-read it taking out the brackets. So it was clear that 47% of parents are saying there is a need (19% Strong / 28% Some). But it is a good point he makes, if by their own research, nearly 50% of respondents think we should have a Free School, shouldn't the NUT be offering the same support to both sides of the argument?

Paul Atherton's picture
Mon, 06/06/2011 - 07:21

Actually Janet, Ben quoted directly from the document Summary-Free-School-Survey.doc posted on your link (which I've just read). As he says he did and placed it in quotes. Careless reading on my part.

Nigel Ford's picture
Sun, 22/05/2011 - 10:05

From what I've read, these founders of free schools intent in making them a reality are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the red tape/form filling emanating from the DfE as well as the bureacracy with having to deal with the county councils regarding their admission codes, disliking the egalitarian nature of them (as things currently stand). The bureacracy is also expensive and time consuming thus adversly affecting their deadlines.

I get the impression, reading between the lines, that they wouldn't have started the free school project if they'd have known the obstacles and scale of the task they faced.

Emma Bishton's picture
Mon, 06/06/2011 - 22:53

Hello Georgina we have our own paper version we are using locally to oppose the proposed school in Stoke by Nayland (Suffolk), happy to share do you want to send me an email address - or email me via It's fairly rudimentary but seems ok for our needs. We also have an online one which I think is useful but we have gained far more signatures on the paper one at meetings and events. We have done market stall approach at local community events and in the marketplace on Saturday morning. Is time-consuming but we have found it worth doing to help get people in the general community (i.e. as well as parents) aware of the issue.

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