First free school funding agreements made public

Fiona Millar's picture
David Wolfe, of Matrix Chambers, and the founder of  A Can of Worms - a website devoted to academies, free schools and the law - has asked the first 24 free school providers, under the Freedom of Information Act, if he can have copies of their Funding Agreements. ARK has released  Funding Agreements  for its two free schools, although both appear to be in practice academies and presumably called free schools to bump up the numbers in the DFE press releases. Both ARK schools have funding agreements that appear to be extensions of the ARK academies master agreement.

St Luke's, a Church of England free school in the London Borough of Camden, has voluntarily released it's funding agreement to David and is the first school to be seen to  use the  'free school' funding agreement/contract rather than the original academies model funding agreement. As I explained here the free schools model agreement gives proposers the power to vary the Admissions Code.  St Luke's hasn't chosen to take advantage of this extra freedom, but the potential for free schools to  fiddle around with their admissions, perfectly legally, is worrying.

Only 21 to go....I wonder what is holding them back?



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Francis Gilbert's picture
Wed, 09/11/2011 - 18:41

It is interesting looking through the funding agreements and seeing just how "free" these so-called "free" schools are (and academies for that matter). For example, the Secretary of State has absolute discretion to allocate capital funds, to close the school and effectively to say what should be taught. The funding agreements say that the curriculum must be broad and balanced, I wonder if there is a similar provision in the funding agreement for WFLS and the Steiner school etc?

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 09/11/2011 - 20:27

As has been observed before on this site - free schools and academies are really about centralisation. One of the new powers the Secretary of State now has (via the funding agreements) is the power to allow free schools to vary the Admissions Code. This can , and is, being done in secret since the FAs are neither negotiated publicly or made available subsequently. A dangerous development.

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 09/11/2011 - 22:48

It's commendable that St Luke's has voluntarily handed over it's funding agreement for public scrutiny but then they seem to have gone about their business without trumpeting their every move from inspiration to opening day in the media and without making the sort of pronouncements that invite controversy and distaste.

It's time that the flagship Free School, the one to which Gove granted the first contract, publishes it's Funding Agreement. The West London Free School must be tired of the speculation and can easily demonstrate it has nothing to hide by going public.

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