£500 million to fund extra school places - £300 million less than £800m academies programme

Janet Downs's picture
Mr Gove has announced that £500 million will be provided to help local authorities (LAs) meet demand for school places. He’s also launched a rebuilding programme for schools in poor condition (although he’s said this is unlikely to fund the BSF projects which were the subject of the judicial review). A letter was sent directly to Academy Trusts and Sixth Form Colleges explaining the priority school building programme on 19 July, but LA maintained schools didn’t get a copy – their copy was sent to their LA.

As the letter was sent out as schools broke up for summer it’s likely that schools who think they might be eligible won’t know the details until early September. Schools can register in advance from 25 July, but as most schools are closed this probably won’t happen. So schools will have just a few weeks at the beginning of the busy Autumn Term to discuss their application, obtain building surveys, cost the work, liaise with LAs and prepare their proposal in order to meet the application submission window of 3 to 14 October.

Academies can apply on their own behalf or ask to be included in their LA submission. LAs will be responsible for applications from maintained schools and from any academy who wants the LA to take responsibility for its bid despite having opted-out of LA control. Free schools, University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and studio schools can also apply and they, too, can ask to be included in LA submissions. Academy chains can submit on behalf of their schools. Only schools which can demonstrate long term pupil demand will be considered, so that means unpopular, down-at-heel schools will continue to crumble and be locked into a cycle of decline.

The rebuilding will be funded under the private finance initiative (PFI) which was described as “discredited” by George Osborne when in opposition. The TES quoted a Government source involved in the school-rebuilding initiative: "There is a massive need for capital investment at the moment, and if 100 schools can be built using PFI, then you are creating additional money - freeing up resources - to fund free schools.”

£800 million has already been allocated to the academies programme which will include 71 capital projects and £180 million has been given to Lord Baker for his UTCs . LA maintained schools cannot access these funds but have to compete with academies, free schools, studio schools and UTCs for a share of the £500 million allocated to fund extra places. This generous-sounding offer is another example of how Government policy is being skewed in favour of academies and free schools.
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Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 25/07/2011 - 14:04

Does anyone at the DfE actually know what’s going on? Neither the announcement to which I referred above nor Mr Gove’s letter mentioned the money available for the rebuilding programme so I assumed it was included in the £500 million of capital funding.

But I was wrong. There is a further link to an undated statement from Mr Gove which revealed the PfI programme would be worth £2 billion.


Then why didn’t the DfE make the amount clear? Perhaps it was compiled before Mr Gove’s statement and the DfE didn’t know this information but was under pressure to announce something, anything.

In the undated statement Mr Gove said he had already announced £800 million of additional spending given direct to LAs for extra school places. Is this the same £800 million awarded to academies, or something different?

And what did he say about the £500 million for extra school places? Mr Gove announced that details of allocations will be given over the summer (when schools are closed) and finalised in the autumn. But who’s doing the allocating, and on what criteria?

John Davies's picture
Tue, 26/07/2011 - 10:54

Below is an email I sent to the Guardian - I know it is not specifc but I think that the Private Sector has been continually blessed with the assumption that it does not have to proof anything that it is by its nature 'good' and as examples demonstrate below the public sector as for examples schools have to continue to prove themselves

As a teacher in FE/HE for 23 years I feel a bit of an outsider here but it is interesting that the 'narrative' [ impressed ?] in all of these debates is a questioning and interrogating as to whether the state school system is any good.It always seem to have to constantly defend itself; the same with the NHS. This is the case in print, internet, TV radio for example Moral Maze [ Michael Portillo on a programme about morality ?? ] I digress. For the sake of that golden mean of balance there really should be a series of debates over a substantial period focusing upon whether the private school sector is making an effective contribution to our society. There needs to be full public scrutiny, interrogation, hard hitting interviews relating to the claims of the private sector and a more questioning approach of the claims of say Oxford and Cambridge on the basis of are they up to the job - are they effective, efficient, of the quality they claim to be. They need to open up their books for scrutiny and transparency. The same with private medicine such as BUPA , again a series of regular scrutiny and questioning of their performances and contributions. In FE we had no problem in being open to questiioning by employers and other professional groups, we would be perfectly happy to defend our reputation.
So come on Greyfriars, St Trinians, Hogwarts, Eton, Harrow, Marlborough,Charterhouse, BUPA lets have a good long regular look at just what you are up to -any takers ?

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 26/07/2011 - 11:37

The evidence that state schools perform better is already there. It's in "Viewing the United Kingdom School System through the Prism of PISA" from the highly-regarded Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (note: in this context "public" means publicly-funded ie state schools):

"...once the socio-economic background of students and schools is accounted for, public schools come out with a slight advantage of 7 score points, on average across OECD countries (in the United Kingdom public schools outscore privately managed schools by 20 score points once the socio-economic background is accounted for)."

http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/33/8/46624007.pdf (page 13)

The sentence preceding the above statement says that "On average across OECD countries, privately managed schools display a performance advantage of 30 score points on the PISA reading scale (in the UK even of 62 score points" which would seem to show that private schools are better. But when the qualifying statement is added it becomes clear that the reason privately managed schools perform better is because of their intake. State schools have to take the whole range of ability and socio-economic circumstances - when this is taken into account state schools do better.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 27/07/2011 - 09:52

In his announcement re school funding (19 July 2011) Mr Gove says the Government will in future “deduct money from local authorities to take account of the fact they no longer provided services to academies.” What he did not say was that the Government had already cut LA funds by at least £148m in expectation that schools would convert into academies. It was this cut in funding that so angered LAs. Portsmouth council, for example, claimed it was losing £500,000 and that its one academy was receiving double the amount per pupil in other schools. Mr Gove tried to move the blame onto the funding system that the Government inherited when it was actually the Government removing funding in anticipation of academy conversion.


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