Stories + Views
Pro-academy “freedom” faction sprung from group that would have expired in 1999, according to Gove.
In 1998 the incoming Labour administration abolished Grant Maintained (GM) schools. Conservative Governments had heavily promoted GM status but in the end only 1,175 mainstream school schools opted out while 20,704 mainstream schools remained with their local authorities*.
In 1999 GM schools legally ceased to exist so groups which represented them would have become obsolete. These included the Grant-Maintained Schools Centre Ltd (aka Grant-Maintained Schools Limited aka GMSC) which could receive grants from the Government and which was accused of withholding subsidies claimed by GM schools for school milk. GMSC denied this and continued to receive EU farm subsidies as late as 2001 and 2002. Some other GM-linked organisations were the Grant Maintained Schools Foundation Limited which received £2.5 million of taxpayers’ money, the Grant Maintained Schools Mutual Limited and the Advisory Committee for Grant Maintained Schools described as a “rival opt-out group” to the Association of Head Teachers of Grant Maintained Schools (AHGMS).
Ex-GM heads looking for a home could have joined organisations which represented foundation and voluntary aided schools such as the three that merged in 2004 to form the Foundation and Aided Schools National Association – merger of AFVAS, AHFAS and FAVASA to give it its full name. One group that isn’t mentioned in this ponderous title is AHGMS which by 2004 would have been defunct. Yet Michael Gove believes that the present day Freedom and Autonomy for Schools – National Association (FASNA) grew from AHGMS.
Perhaps it’s because one of the heads associated with AHGMS migrated to FASNA. George Phipson, the NAHT’s funding consultant who’s been working with the Government committee on the national funding formula was awarded the CBE in December 1998 for services to AHGMS shortly before GM schools were abolished. Just over three years later he became Company Secretary of the Foundation and Aided Schools National Association (FASNA) on 28 May 2002.
But FASNA wasn’t incorporated until 2004, so how could Mr Phipson have been Company Secretary in 2002? It’s because there were two FASNAs – one which grew from three merged groups and had the long name (“FASNA 2” to avoid confusion) and another FASNA (“FASNA 1”) which began in May 2002 and was dissolved in January 2007. These two FASNAs co-existed until FASNA 1’s dissolution. Three of the directors of FASNA 1, George Phipson, Roger Alston and Joan Binder were directors of FASNA 2. Binder had also been a director of FAVASA, one of the organisations that merged to form FASNA 2. Phipson ceased being director of FASNA 2 in July 2009, Alston resigned his directorship in June 2007 and Binder is still a director of FASNA 2 (now renamed the Freedom and Autonomy for Schools – National Association).
Mr Gove recently wished FASNA 2 a happy 20th birthday but this can only be sustained by tracing a tortuous route apparently travelled by a single person from one of many dried-up sources via two tributaries (one of which has ceased flowing) and through several changes of name to reach the Freedom and Autonomy for Schools – National Association.