It is bad enough to see that private schools are receiving public money but mind boggling at a time of severe cut backs to learn that private sector companies
are raking in millions to set up free schools.
It is worth remembering that schools like Eton, Wellington and Highgate already in receipt of tax advantages via their charitable status
, supposedly for the public benefits they can provide to the wider community.
Whether they actually provide public benefit is debatable since most argue that offering bursaries is enough justification for the millions they receive from the tax payer. There is little evidence that these places do go to the most disadvantaged young people and many of us would argue that bursaries are a public 'disbenefit', since they are largely academically selective, beyond the reach of families who can‘t afford private tuition and remove the most able children from local comprehensive schools which need balanced intakes to do well.
However the news that some companies like Appleyards, the Place Group and Cambridge Education have received around £5 million, simply to help prepare the business cases of two or three schools that may not even be needed, one of which is a single faith school, therefore presumably not open to the wider community, is galling.
This article in the Guardian
points out that, if the government approves the business cases, the consultants would arrange procedures for admissions, curriculum, staff, premises and finance. More money lost from existing state schools.
Local authorities have a duty to provide extra places if they are needed, and could probably do it more cheaply than this, so in those cases where there is demand, resources go to councils to plan provision in their areas. And if the places are not needed, let’s see the money go back into areas where state schools now face a dramatic loss of funds, school sport, music, specialisms and early years provision, to name just a few.