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Free schools - who's running the charities that are running the schools

(28 Posts)
BeingAMumIsFun Mon 05-Sep-11 13:06:52

ARK - Tory Peer Lord Fisk (who sits it the house of Lords) - along with investment bankers. The ARK charity hold most of its money in a fund in the Caymen islands and there about 6-8 charities involved - of course Lord Fisk is on the boards of all of them - we should ask him if he's on the board of the Cayman Island company too.

ARK already run 8 academies and guess what - they spent 7.5% less than they were given to run the schools last year - leaving them a nice surplus of over £3 million pounds - wonder if that's in the Caymen islands too?

ARK - spend £285,000 (of the academies funds) on "education consultants" and £0.00 on staff development in the schools - taken from their accounts for 2010!

CfBT - setting up free schools and already controlling academies - they spent 30% on consultancy fees than they did on teaching

And the people on the boards of the charities above - well they are putting themselves on the boards of the schools as well

So are free schools about parents or free schools about investment bankers and tory peers and consultants making lots of money - every penny they take is a penny less being spent on our kids

I don't think I like these changes any more - especially as none of these people are accountable to us - the mums!

aliceliddell Mon 05-Sep-11 13:35:59

Accountable? Are you mad? They're accountable to the shareholders, like the NHS privateers will be. These idiots are selling the country from under our feet.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 05-Sep-11 14:12:41

I think that this is an interesting development and that it doesn't pay to be instantly alarmist just because 'businessmen' are involved.

The crunch test is that the outcomes for the children that go to those schools are the best they can possibly be. Free schools will not succeed if they do not offer a better option than the schools already in existence and if parents don't want to send their children there. If the boards of the free schools cream off profits at the expense of providing an excellent standard of education or keeping buildings in good shape then we'll have every right to get angry and they will fail. But if they can invest in teaching, equipment, consultants, buildings etc and still outperform other schools at the same time... maybe the rest of the education system will benefit from that experience?

BeingAMumIsFun Mon 05-Sep-11 14:49:11

I think I'll ask a Tory MP if I can set up a free hospital that only 100 people locally can use - and I get to choose who uses it and everyone else is shut out of this exclusive little hospital - and we will get better attention and money spent on us than every one that is shut out.

And then we can do it with nursing homes, and then we can do it with fire brigades and then we can do it with universities - oh forgot - they already took care of that by pricing everyone out

And then we can do it with swimming pools and libraries and tennis courts and parks.

yes let's create exclusive little clubs for the chosen few - give them more of the tax than their neighbours - just because they want it

jackstarb Mon 05-Sep-11 16:53:32

BeingAMum,

You really don't get this 'Big Society' thing do you? I guess you are not alone.

The key point is (as cognito says):

"Free schools will not succeed if they do not offer a better option than the schools already in existence and if parents don't want to send their children there.." i.e people vote with their feet.

Free School admissions will have conform to the same admissions code as all state schools. So everyone gets an equal chance of getting a place. Well, at least as equal as for any state school.

Looking at the list of Free Schools it's clear that there aren't enough opening in deprived areas. But I'm guessing for the 'anti Free School' types - that's a good thing?? - Cos they'd threaten struggling community schools or something like that....

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 05-Sep-11 22:21:45

'...better attention and money spent on us... '

The Free Schools at the moment may be getting more attention because they're new, and there may be grants to set them up in the first place, but they will be receiving the same £s per pupil as any other state school. They're going to be incentivised to take in children on free school meals with the 'Pupil Premium' and, if they are interested in maximising their revenue, it would actually make sense for them to attract more children from low-income families, not make the place an 'exclusive little club'

Private schools are the preserve of the wealthy. State schools are a mish-mash post-code lottery that have let a lot of kids down. Free Schools might ironically end up being the best chance a child gets to escape poverty and make something of themselves.

newwave Mon 05-Sep-11 22:42:06

"I think that this is an interesting development and that it doesn't pay to be instantly alarmist just because 'businessmen' are involved".

Oh yes it does, Gove is already talking about allowing these schools to make a profit in the future. Yet another way for "businessmen" to gouge the taxpayer.

jackstarb Mon 05-Sep-11 22:51:25

Well there are already 'businessmen' all over the state education system and have been for years.

If someone can run a successful school & 'cream off money', it does make you wonder about the efficiency of the average state school.

newwave Mon 05-Sep-11 23:04:48

No problem with business providing things like computers and stationary but should be nowhere near the chalk face or having any input whatsoever in matters of the curriculum or school budgets or how they are spent.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 06-Sep-11 07:33:51

I don't see that 'business' and 'education' are mutually exclusive. Successful businesses have to meet the needs of the market, manage costs and return enough money to invest in growth and satisfy shareholders. A successful school needs a lot of those same skills. The curriculum of state schools remains centrally determined and many already employ school business managers to look after the budgets.

niceguy2 Tue 06-Sep-11 10:37:01

I think opinions will probably divide along ideological lines. Personally I am treating these "free" schools with an open mind.

As long as they have the same admissions criteria as state schools (ie. not being publicly funded to cream off the best & brightest) then I don't see why all the alarm.

If the school can raise standards, do a better job AND make a profit out of it then where's the harm? Indeed as Jack points out, if a free school can make a profit whilst conforming to the same rules as a state school then you have to wonder why the state school is so inefficient.

As a parent the best thing you can give me is choice. I can look at several schools and choose which I feel is best for my child.

I admit there are pitfalls but at the same time I can see advantages. I don't see any reason why we shouldn't at least try it though.

Having schools accountable financially for themselves has to be better than expecting endless pots of money from the LEA/government? Surely a headmaster knows best what to spend his budget on and doesn't need an army of bureaucrats at the LEA creaming off a big slice of his budget to teach him to suck eggs?

ttosca Tue 06-Sep-11 18:29:47

Free schools built in mainly middle-class and wealthy areas

Poorer white pupils under-represented, study finds, as Michael Gove scrutinised over political appointments

Analysis of the catchment areas of the first 24 free schools approved by the government shows they are skewed towards the middle class and that white, working-class pupils will be under-represented.

Research shows that the 10-minute commuting area around the first wave of free schools is dominated by middle-class households, appearing to undermine coalition claims that they are empowering working class families. The areas have 57% of better-off, educated and professional households compared with the English average of 42.8%. There are also a higher-than-average proportion of Asian homeowners in the free school catchment areas – 5.3% – compared with 1% in England as a whole. Just 29.1% are categorised as "hard-pressed" or of "moderate means", compared with 36.9% for the country.

www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/aug/31/free-schools-middle-class-areas

meditrina Tue 06-Sep-11 18:44:07

The reason for their being more Asian households is because 1 in 8 of the Free Schools opened so far are Hindu ones. And I'm wary of the "10 minute commuting claim" as this is unreliable in London (where 1 in 3 of them are).

On such a small sample - only 24 open so far - I think it is imprudent to attach much importance, really.

And what, BTW, is worse about ARK having an offshore account - in comparison, say, to all the LAs who did?

niceguy2 Tue 06-Sep-11 20:14:42

I think if you want to be fair, you have to look deeper at the headline. So for example, if the current schools which are being or have been approved are in mainly middle class areas, how many applications for free schools have been submitted and have those been approved/rejected in similar numbers?

I mean let's face it, the rich already send their kids to private schools so they won't need free schools. So its the middle classes/working classes who will be most affected by free schools.

So if it's mainly the middle classes who are submitting applications then it only stands to reason more of them will be approved. It's only unfair if it appears that working class areas have submitted applications and more of those were rejected for some spurious reason.

The Guardian article implies there's some sort of unfairness but ultimately if you don't take the opportunities you are given then you can't complain if don't then benefit from them.

niceguy2 Tue 06-Sep-11 20:15:26

Oops, sorry I mean "how many applications for free schools have been submitted *in working class areas?*"

jackstarb Tue 06-Sep-11 21:24:33

According to channel4's FactCheck website - 11 of the 24 Free Schools are in 'deprived areas'.

blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-will-free-schools-serve-the-deprived-masses-or-the-privileged-few/7682

niceguy2 Tue 06-Sep-11 21:56:44

Just goes to show then that the old adage is still certainly true.

There are lies, damn lies and statistics.

newwave Tue 06-Sep-11 22:49:42

Labour should have the balls to say "all free schools will be taken back into LEA control if we return to power, It will be a popular policy except for those pushy parents who think their precious offspring (Tarquin and Rupert) are far to delicate and "special" for the local schools.

newwave Tue 06-Sep-11 22:52:40

I should add, and those that want to indulge in religious indoctrination of minors and the ridiculous worship of a non existent diety tax payers expense.

DoesBuggerAll Tue 06-Sep-11 23:10:18

newwave - it may surprise you to know that religious people are taxpayers too.

newwave Tue 06-Sep-11 23:33:37

"newwave - it may surprise you to know that religious people are taxpayers too".

Maybe so but that is no excuse to foster their delusions on impressionable children now is it, neither is it correct to expect tax payers to fund it.

After all no one is going to allow me to open a school for those who worship the Norse Gods who are just as likely to exist (on not as is almost certainly the case) as the current lot.

If I am wrong about god then please provide one shred of proveable evidence as to his/her/it's existance. No? thought not.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 07-Sep-11 07:32:24

"LEA control" is far weaker today than it was in the past for the great majority of schools. Various initiatives have made schools far more autonomous. The academy status programme, for example, often gets described as head teachers taking control of their budget away from the LEA... when, in reality, most large schools are responsible for their own budget anyway.

All parents want the best education for their children. Not just those that have children called 'Tarquin and Rupert'. What a load of inverted snobbery rubbish.

niceguy2 Wed 07-Sep-11 12:56:14

I'm agnostic myself so i cba to discuss proof of God with you but just wanted to say that I'm sure if enough ppl wanted to worship a norse god then I'm sure under current rules you could get funding for such a school. Alas I doubt they will fund an entire school just for Newwave Jr to attend. But that's not bias against your religion, just mathematics.

But Newwave, can you explain to me why you believe an LEA is better placed to know what a school needs and dictate what their money should be spent on than the headmaster of said school? I've never understood why an LEA should cream off nearly 30% (I hear) of the budget given to them before distributing the rest to schools and what value they give for their money.

jackstarb Wed 07-Sep-11 13:39:06

To be fair - I think LEA's vary. Some are excellent, others not so much. Where the LEA adds real value, schools can still use them for central services and I'm sure many will.

niceguy2 Wed 07-Sep-11 14:52:16

Yes, I'm sure there are good and bad LEA's. But my point is that just because there's a good LEA, it still doesn't necessarily mean that same job couldn't be done directly at the school or by letting the school put it out to competitive tender.

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