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Free school head without any teaching qualifications plans to ignore curriculum

(313 Posts)
mrz Sun 10-Mar-13 11:52:06

CountingClouds Mon 08-Apr-13 09:23:48

ipadquietly - I think you just made those figures up about the cost of the schools. But even if it was those figures were correct its not any more than state schools cost in London.

And how is money going to schools sucking money out of the education budget, that exactly what that money is for, duh!

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 09:36:54

Well the money spent on free schools that have failed to open or lack parental interest (no pupils) would be a waste in my eyes CC

specialknickers Mon 08-Apr-13 09:59:25

clouds I'm typing my very first LOL at the idea that the word pleb has been invented by working class union reps. That's one of the most hilarious and muddle headed ideas I've ever encountered on mumsnet , and that's going some.

I was privileged enough to receive a private education in the 80's and I can tell you that the word pleb was routinely deployed to describe children at the comprehensive school then. (It's one of the many reasons I'm hoping that I will never have to send my children to private school, but that's a whole other thread). Luckily for you, Latin and Classical Studies featured heavily in our curriculum, so I can correct you and let you know it's a word that was used in Ancient Rome to denote citizens from the free classes (middle classes to you dear) and diffent irate them from the ruling patrician class.

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 09:59:34

Caroline Nash is co-chair of governors of Pimlico Academy with her husband and chair of governors at the Pimlico Primary - she set up the Curriculum Centre and is ' responsible for the introduction and development of the history specialism'. She is not a qualified teacher but for a governor seems very involved in the fine detail. I assume she appointed both Daisy Christodolou and Annaliese Briggs. Whatever the merits of the curriculum, since it has been introduced the principal, senior vice principal and other heads of department have left. It is indeed a big risk to appoint an unqualified and inexperienced teacher to such a senior position.

The think tanks with links to the school have actively promoted for-profit schools and they are well connected. For example, the Curriculum Centre is advised by James O'Shaughnessy who was David Cameron's policy adviser, and part of the Policy Exchange, co-founded by Michael Gove. His recent publications have called for forcing schools to become academies run by for-profit companies. Annaliese Briggs gained all her experience of Ed Hirsch and Saturday schools at Civitas which admired the for-profit Swedish model back in 2009. It is clear that these ideas have been discussed by DfE Board Directors (i.e. John Nash).

specialknickers Mon 08-Apr-13 10:01:09

Different irate - differentiate. My iPad's making Freudian slips for me this morning...

specialknickers Mon 08-Apr-13 10:06:29

Is it just me, or does The Curriculum Centre have just a whiff of A4e about it? Not the same people of course, but the same unfounded ideas and the same potentially disastrous effect on the public purse?

I hope I'm wrong.

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 10:28:51

'how is money going to [free] schools sucking money out of the education budget'

I was wondering about this. The funding of free schools was originally to come from a cut in the IT budget to schools.

The National Audit Office points out that:

- the 2010 Spending Review settlement reduced the DfE's overall capital spending in real-terms by 60%.
- the Free Schools Programme has been allocated capital funding of £1.7 billion to 2014-15
- there have been several changes to calculation of core funding: About half of primary and over 60% of secondary schools are likely to see real-terms decreases of 5% or more..

CountingClouds Mon 08-Apr-13 11:56:00

LOL specialknickers - I think your prejudices has caused you to get your knickers in a twist ;) I am fully aware of the meaning of the word 'plebs', and I did not say it was invented, I said it was reinvented by union reps (in an attempt to fuel class warfare). Perhaps your private school education wasn't all that?

muminlondon - The 60% decrease in DfE's capital spending budget has nothing to do with Free Schools, or do you know better? Whether the remaining budget that is being spent on academies, state or Free schools, it is still being spent on schools and that is what the budget is for.

So, money going to [free] schools is sucking money out of the education budget, is as ridiculous as saying state schools are sucking money out of the education budget!

I wonder how much money has been spent on Free schools that failed to open, from what I can read in the press we are talking about tens of thousands of pounds. How does that compare to the money saved by bypassing councils that cream 10-15% off the budget given to state schools. Millions, probably billions (over the years)?

ipadquietly Mon 08-Apr-13 12:08:25

clouds This is what I've found (apart from articles with the school-specific capital funding I found last night):

From the National Audit office report:
'The Free Schools Programme has been allocated capital funding of £1.7 billion to 2014-15.'
The recommendations are interesting.

And from the civil engineers' website who wer involved with the building of Pimlico Academy alone:

Let's repeat that figure from the NAO again...... £1.7 billion.shock

ipadquietly Mon 08-Apr-13 12:09:40

Sorry mil you found the NAO report too. Didn't read properly... blush

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 12:14:59

"I wonder how much money has been spent on Free schools that failed to open" Well £400 000 was spent on the Bradford & Riverdale schools alone figures freely available in the press if you aren't wearing blinkers.

ipadquietly Mon 08-Apr-13 12:23:08

clouds That money is being spent on capital funding (buildings, IT resources, pot plants, sunny atria, etc). Funding for children in academies and free schools is the same as any state maintained school.

This money is being wasted on a few fabulous educational palaces, whilst other schools crumble.

Also, many Free schools are in converted buildings at the moment and are waiting for permanent premises. For example:

Oh, as I was browsing, just came across another building for £15m:Wimbledon Free School

ipadquietly Mon 08-Apr-13 12:25:37

Sorry wrong link on the number in temp

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 12:36:00

The 60% saving in capital budgets was primarily the result of axing the Building Schools for the Future programme. Some schools that did qualify for a rebuild have faced long waits while a few flagship free schools were fast-tracked. In terms of capital costs, several free schools are private schools which came with their own premises, so would have been cheaper. However, others are brand new and require refurbishment - e.g. Bristol Free School cost £8 million approx but was built in an area where there are 300 surplus places and, I believe, millions spent on PFI rebuilds in surrounding schools.

You could also take free schools in the wider context of converter academies, as free schools are essentially academies. There was a miscalculation and subsequent £1 billion overspend which has prompted the changes to core funding. Some areas such as Cheshire East have suffered 'devasting cuts' since then.

While some free schools may have lower capital costs they still receive an initial start-up grant and if those schools are undersubscribed they are initially being subsidised. They may have a detrimental effect on other schools, especially if they are exacerbating a surplus in rural areas of declining population. Two half-full schools would have higher overheads yet may be unable to offer a full range of subjects.

I have some sympathy for parent-led proposals but not if they affect neighbouring, successful schools. Ex-private schools may fill gaps cheaply if there are shortages but could be divisive if they are faith schools, especially because there already is an alternative and now easier VA route. Some of the new free schools have had 'Needs to improve' Ofsted reports while schools such as the Maharishi school in Lancashire have repeatedly been judged to have infringed advertising standards (that one did not even enter pupils for SATs). So such schools may cost more to monitor and regulate in other ways.

It's early days but I think the National Audit Office and Ofsted will give us more information as to the value for money and effectiveness of free schools and academies in general. There has been little transparency from the DfE.

ipadquietly Mon 08-Apr-13 12:43:59

I read that each pupil is attracting about £4000 - in line with maintained schools. If there are only 30 pupils in the school in the first year, the total budget will be around £120,000 (to cover all running costs: staff salaries, utilities, stationery, admin, etc). A budget as small as this would run into deficit very quickly.
How do they resolve this, or am I misunderstanding something?

specialknickers Mon 08-Apr-13 12:45:00

Reinvented it since the 80's clouds really? Do you really think that?

Never been accused of being prejudiced before, but having read some of your other posts I won't ask if you meant to be so rude. I will just assume that you did and take it as a huge compliment smile.

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 12:47:54

According to the DfE there is also a fixed grant of £95,000 per primary or all-through school, but I'm looking rather quickly:

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 12:52:14

More on Bristol here:

And more on start-up funding (not capital costs) from a FOI request to the DfE:

beezmum Mon 08-Apr-13 13:12:44

Muminlondon you seem determined to present details as if they add up to a conspiracy theory. Of course all these people are interconnected although they won't all share exactly the same views they have a common agenda which is why they all want to work together. If you want to get change you don't do it by appointing people that don't share your vision. You would find the same pattern of connections in other areas of government of any colour and although it could be fairly criticised it is normal.
Caroline Nash obviously had a vision which is why she started a charity to sponsor free schools. However, although she is clearly very interested in the principles of the curriculum and says she wants to fund a Hirsch style one she did then spend her own money creating an organisation staffed by actual teaching professionals that are developing these curriculums.
On the subject of funding I don't really know anything except to say that it was my understanding that Pimlico was going to get new buildings whatever, it was a school in special measures that got some investment because its buildings were not fit for purpose.The appt of Future etc came after the building decisions from my memory.
I do not know whether there is actually any upset in the Pimlico Academy, does anyone else or are they just guessing? There are other probable reasons for this staff movement.
Personally I think there are arguments for and against free schools but this thread is frustrating because it conflates a genuine debate with a pile of ill informed tittle tattle.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 13:32:21

Staffed by actual teaching professionals like Annaliese Briggs and Jo Saxton and Briony Shipman?

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 14:12:03

beezmum John Nash is DfE Board Director so it's not just that he is interested in running schools for profit and forcing failed schools to become academies from which chains such as his would benefit. He's actually in control of policy and its implementation. He and his wife are also substantial Tory donors.

True, he was given the first academy and the £35 million rebuild under the Labour government. But the appointment to the DfE is recent and the select committee has questioned the conflict of interest here. I haven't got time to find all references but this comment made by a select committee member when interviewing the new Board suggests some of the concerns about priorities:

'When we went round [the DfE] we found the academies and free schools packed out; there were 10 people for every eight desks. You go to the safeguarding floor and the computers are not even on and there are a lot of empty desks. If there are tight resources-and we are also told by DG when we were there last week, that the rate of adoption of academy status had far exceeded the most optimistic expectation, so it is really sucking resource over at a time of constraint.'

His wife Caroline is chair of governors of Pimlico Academy, since 2012 Millbank Primary (a feeder school), and now Pimlico Primary (which creates an all-through academy). She is also listed as an individual involved in the discussion of the national curriculum which has been heavily criticised as unworkable by historians. It is up to Gove as to whether he takes on board the criticism but he appointed John Nash and consulted Caroline Nash so these are influential people.

muminlondon Mon 08-Apr-13 14:28:45

The staff turnover may be a coincidence - but the principal is leaving, the senior vice principal left at the beginning of the year, an assistant principal/head of humanities post is vacant, and they are currently recruiting for a head of English and of MFL, and deputy head of Geography.

You are right that this may just be normal when a head leaves in or a coincidence that it happens in the same month/term as the Curriculum Centre is established. I'm sure the existing staff are very professional and discreet. Going back to the start of the thread, someone will need to support Annalese Briggs as both an NQT and new head.

beezmum Mon 08-Apr-13 15:22:09

The curriculum is not a new at Pimlico even if the curriculum centre is. That number of staff is not really indicative of anything - not saying it is all sweetness just that you can't read anything into that turnover. As Pimlico is an inner city school that went from special measures to putstanding it is no surprise that the top people are moving on - they would be hot property.
I have to question the comment that the National Curriculum, has been has been declared unworkable 'by historians'. There was a rather distasteful barney between two groups of historians some represented by David Evans vehemently against and others led by Niall Ferguson strongly in favour. The Historical Association - a subject association is very against. Of course, so are the people at the Curriculum Centre, they might agree with some of the principles behind the proposed History curriculum and been consulted but it is not the model they favour.
It is right and proper that a select committee asks questions about possible conflicts of interests but the asking of questions is not proof and doesn't mean that there will be such conflicts but it is appropriate for this to be investigated. Of course Future is a charity so Nash is not personally in it for the profit.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 15:27:53

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 15:28:51

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