12 May 2014 - Free schools too expensive
Michael Gove warned to bring free schools spending under control
Rowena Mason (The Guardian)
Michael Gove has been warned that the budget for free schools must be brought "back under control" by Lib Dem chief Treasury secretary Danny Alexander and officials at the Exchequer, government sources have told the Guardian.
Amid escalating coalition tensions over education spending, the sources said very senior Treasury officials had raised concerns with the Department for Education (DfE) about the cost of free schools, which the Liberal Democrats claim has led to a £800m black hole.
"This isn't just David Laws [a Lib Dem schools minister] and the Liberal Democrats who are very concerned about the free schools budget spiralling out of control," a senior government source said.
"The Treasury has now made it crystal clear to Gove and the Department for Education that they want to sign off all future rounds of spending on free schools and won't do so until the capital budget for free schools is back under control."
Jane Merrick (The Independent)
Coalition relations threatened to deteriorate to an all-time low yesterday after Michael Gove was accused of diverting £400m of essential classroom funding to plug a hole in his free schools project.
In what threatens to be the worst spat between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in four years, a senior government source accused the Secretary of State for Education of "lunacy" and being a "zealot" by funding his flagship programme at the expense of much-needed local authority school places. David Laws, the Lib Dem schools minister, is said to have warned Mr Gove not to divert the money, but was overruled by the Education Secretary.
While free schools are being created where there is no demand, other areas have heavily oversubscribed schools and parents are being forced to send their children to schools miles away and that were not on their list of six choices. Figures published yesterday revealed that half of new primary free schools that are opening this autumn are unfilled, underlining fears that they are being created in areas where there is no demand.
Staff (The Independent)
Sometimes it seems as if Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, set up his free-schools programme purely to distract attention from his main objective – to turn all schools in England into academies. If so, the ploy is working brilliantly. Today’s report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will attract much attention for its criticism of the failures of accountability in a number of free schools.
Mr Gove’s ambition – that the vast majority of secondary schools will be academies by the time of the general election – has already been realised, with surprisingly little finger-wagging from Margaret Hodge, the fierce guardian of taxpayers’ interests who chairs the PAC. Although many teachers and political activists remain opposed to academies, the model has become the norm in English secondary education.
Mostly, this is a good thing. Freedom from local council bureaucracy has generally allowed a better cohort of headteachers to run their schools more effectively, and academies have helped to transform the ethos, discipline and expectations of pupils in areas that had previously been written off.
Nigel Nelson (The Mirror)
Michael Gove is taking £400million from needy children to support his struggling free schools, reports the Sunday People.
The Education Secretary is raiding his Basic Need budget – which is meant to provide extra school places or build new schools – to fill a likely £800million black hole in spending on free schools by 2016.
A Whitehall source said: “The Tories are putting the needs of their pet projects ahead of the requirements of 24,000 other schools in the country.”
Mr Gove is now at war with his Lib Dem deputy David Laws who furiously opposes cutting Basic Need from £2.75billion to £2.35billion over three years.
The missing cash could provide 30,000 more school places.
It comes as a Sunday People probe reveals that free schools are failing THREE TIMES more often than normal schools.
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"12 May 2014 - Free schools too expensive", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), décembre 2014. Consulté le 27/02/2024. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/key-story/archives-revue-de-presse-2014/12-may-2014-free-schools-too-expensive