Gove's plan to privatise academies and free schools

(141 Posts)
muminlondon Tue 12-Feb-13 23:37:33
muminlondon Mon 18-Feb-13 16:52:05

The New Schools Network is funded directly by the government:

www.education.gov.uk/inthenews/inthenews/a00199422/new-schools-network-awarded-grant-to-support-free-schools
www.education.gov.uk/a00199451/nsn

I found an older Guardian article which refers to special advisers involved including, interestingly, one of the @ToryEducation advisers implicated in the recent bullying stories.

rabbitstew Mon 18-Feb-13 17:46:27

Rachel Wolf - only 24 when she set NSN up and has already left it to work in New York. So loads of experience of education, then - she only recently left it, herself. And already on to the next project. Why see anything through when you don't have to? Much better to have lots of bright ideas, make use of your contacts and then b*gger off to something more interesting.

rabbitstew Mon 18-Feb-13 17:59:51

... before the shit hits the fan.

muminlondon Mon 18-Feb-13 18:44:24

One of the DfE directors is also trustee of the NSN, Theodore Agnew. And also of the Policy Exchange, and a Conservative party donor. The present NSN director, Natalie Evans, was also at the Policy Exchange. Which was co-founded by Michael Gove. Which is putting so much pressure on, blimey, Michael Gove again, to allow profit-making in schools.

rabbitstew Mon 18-Feb-13 19:15:15

Oh, poor old Michael. How can he possibly withstand it? Still - excellent idea to allow profit making, really. It has made a huge difference in Sweden. And we all know how efficient and reliable it has allowed our railway system to be, and our water companies. They do a superb job with taxpayers' money and it's so easy and cheap to get rid of the companies that don't do a good job with our essential services and bring in other providers - keeps them on their toes and doesn't let them think they are too big and essential to fail. And the NHS has gone from strength to strength since private competition and provision have increased there, too. You don't get half so much corruption and waste in the private sector as you do in the bloated state sector. It's all so obvious and not ideological at all, just plain old common sense. Private sector institutions never put profit above absolutely everything else and never, ever start to abuse their power once they think they are big and powerful enough. And obviously there is no tendency whatsoever for small organisations to be swallowed up by the increasingly big ones. grin

muminlondon Mon 18-Feb-13 21:25:44

So efficient, too. Just look at G4S security at the Olympics - how well that turned out.

muminlondon Tue 19-Feb-13 07:59:30

Talking of young advisers, one of the @ToryEducation team Henry de Zoute has been described as one of the 'most powerful posh people under 30' and 'media savvy' - he is reported to have destroyed the emails Michael Gove had been ordered to disclose under freedom of information.

prh47bridge Tue 19-Feb-13 10:14:14

For what it is worth, this was down to a disagreement between the ICO and the civil service. It affected many government departments and goes back to the last government.

The civil service was of the view that emails to and from private accounts belonging to ministers and their advisers were not subject to FoI requests and that there was therefore no requirement to keep such emails. According to the advice ministers and advisers could delete such emails without keeping any records in the same way that most of us delete emails after we have dealt with them. This was the guidance the civil service gave to ministers and advisers under both this government and the last government.

The ICO was of the view that any such emails are subject to FoI requests if they deal with departmental business, although emails discussing party policy are exempt. The ICO chose to use the DfE as a test case and won.

Personally I am with the ICO one, although the dividing line between departmental business and party policy can be very difficult to determine. But I think any criticism should be directed primarily at the civil service for the incorrect advice it was giving ministers and their advisers.

muminlondon Tue 19-Feb-13 19:04:30

I very much agree with the FOI on this one. I see that the DfE adviser who worked at the New Schools Network in 2009, Dominic Cummings, deliberately advised all his contacts to email him via his personal account:

www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/sep/20/michael-gove-department-private-email

He's the foul-mouthed one:

www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/dump-fing-everyone-the-inside-story-of-how-michael-goves-vicious-attack-dogs-are-terrorising-the-dfe-8497626.html

muminlondon Tue 19-Feb-13 19:32:46

Dominic Cummings was also reported to be firmly against answering freedom of information requests and parliamentary questions (in the context of free schools):

'NSN is not giving out to you, the media or anybody else any figure on 'expressions of interest' for PQs, FOIs or anything else. Further, NSN has not, is not, and will never answer a single FOI request made to us concerning anything at all'

www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/sep/20/emails-blocked-gove-adviser

This may explain the special monitoring of the DfE by the Information Commissioner for its poor record on FOI requests. And why Michael Gove was questioned on the DfE's poor record on answering parliamentary questions.

rabbitstew Tue 19-Feb-13 21:30:49

What a lot of nasty individuals.

muminlondon Wed 20-Feb-13 07:54:02

Nasty individuals, nasty agenda. There was a letter in the Guardian today with a list of for-profit companies already involved in schools, including two Swedish companies planning to take over chains.

Well, the ICO ruled over a month ago that the public should be able to see a list of all bids for free schools so we shouldn't have to wait too long to know who these companies are.

riddlesgalore Wed 27-Feb-13 17:08:26

prh47bridge Wed 13-Feb-13 16:02:09

The academies that you appear to refer to that you maintain have been successful are mark 2 sponsored. In my area which has several mark 2 academies, they are, even after a number of years, still according to the ofsted data dashboard under performing. Even though they have followed a policy of replacing GCSE's with equivalents they still haven't achieved the same as other 'similar' schools let alone nationally in all reports.

Not a good recommendation I would say but we appear to be stuck with them. Still the sponsors are finding the whole business lucrative.

Elibean Wed 27-Feb-13 17:30:27

Re the OP - I don't like this either.

I'm with rabbitstew on this.

prh47bridge Wed 27-Feb-13 23:47:30

riddlesgalore - I agree that, whilst the evidence shows that in general the academies set up under the last government performed better than the schools they replaced, that is not universally the case. Some schools have failed to improve following conversion and a few have gone backwards. In any case, as I pointed out, those academies are significantly different from most of the new academies being created so any conclusions based on the old academies may not apply to the new ones.

The sponsors do not make profits from academies. That would require a change in the law. And the most of the new academies do not have sponsors.

muminlondon Thu 28-Feb-13 00:37:44

The new academies were, mostly, already outstanding schools. Or selective, with a concentration of high attainers where it is easy to provide the full range of academic subjects - so 80% of grammar schools have converted. It will take some years to see any evidence simply in terms of results that, independent of the local authority, converter academies will be less effective. By which time there may be other undesirable consequences.

I believe profit-making is being demanded by those who have a vested interest in making profit, and ideas are being drip-fed by right-wing thinktanks. In the long-term the real test for academies (sponsored or not) is to see whether the divide narrows not just between individuals on free school meals and the rest, but between the most deprived areas and the least deprived. Some of the best performing school systems in the world are also the fairest but the UK is already very segregated. Another concern is that profit-making chains will take over more vulnerable converter academies or free schools - as they are doing already with forced academisation of LA primaries - and there is not only less accountability to parents but also less choice as they amalgamate or close down schools. Ultimately, only big schools or big chains will be economic to run. We may end up with even less choice but a more expensive system that is no more effective.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now