Stories + Views
Clegg claims he’s stopped for-profit free schools. He hasn’t.
Nick Clegg claims that he has thwarted plans by Michael Gove,to allow “free schools” to make a profit. This is not true. The front door might remain closed for the time being but the back door remains wide open for companies to run free schools for profit.
There are two ways to profit from running free schools. One is for a private company to set them up and own them. This is what Clegg claims he has prevented. But it is still perfectly legal for a governing body of a school – any school, not just free schools – to hire a company to run the school on a for-profit management contract. Turin Grove school in London did so in 2007 by hiring Edison Learning to run the school. But free schools open up new market opportunities for companies to set up and run branded chains of schools for profit on behalf of free school trustees. Gove is happy with this and nothing Clegg has said suggests that he isn’t either.
A case in point is Wey Education. Last year Zenna Atkins was Chair of Ofsted. This year she is the chief executive of Wey Education, which aims to run a for-profit chain of academies and free schools. The company has a school operating model which enables profit to be generated from its state funding:
“The Directors believe that the current teaching methods, allocation of resources, wastage and inefficiencies create the opportunity to provide the same standard of teaching and results at a lower cost per pupil. The Directors believe that alternative management operations could provide the same level of services for a lower cost and that alternative teaching methods could deliver better teaching results at a lower cost. […] The Group will seek to establish a new schools operation business which will play a major role as an outsource provider of management services to schools.”