Is money diverted from classrooms to a black hole?

Jane Eades's picture
In the last couple of weeks at least 3 'free' school projects have floundered because of lack of premises. So far the DfE have failed to respond to an FoI request for the cost of the aborted Michaela Community School project.

More worrying is the amount of money being spent on public relations exercises to convince the public that academies are a good thing. The following is taken from the Communitas website

West London Academy
We provided PR support for both press and communications with parents, staff and the wider community. We also managed the media to minimise some potentially very negative coverage after the Academy's first Ofsted report.

The London Academy
We worked with the Principal and Deputy Principal of the Academy to deal with the media furore after a teacher in the London Academy went to the Daily Mail to denounce standards of discipline in the school and to allege that she had been attacked by two boys in a school corridor.

Harris Boys' Academy, East Dulwich
The Harris Federation approached us to work with them on a reputation management issue relating to proposed temporary accommodation options for the Harris Boys’ Academy.

Eastbourne Academy, Darlington
We provided a full media relations service for the Academy. Early challenges were around staff management issues that needed delicate and skilled management to avoid unwelcome press coverage.
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Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 11/03/2012 - 17:18

Durand primary academy spent £200,000 in two years on employing a lobbying firm for fundraising, academy conversion, media and political relations and the campaign to secure government funding for it to convert a building into a boarding school.

The academy’s publicity strategy resulted in 23 mentions of Durand in Parliament, an alleged £2 million worth of media coverage, the school being chosen as a venue for the launch of the Schools White Paper in November 2010, praise from Mr Gove in a speech and on Radio Live 5, and a mention in a DfE press release.

This is how the strategy’s aims were described by Coloribus:

“To deploy incessant creative energetic public relations and political lobbying to make Durand Primary School synonymous with state sector education excellence and innovation.
- To tackle the difficult attitudes of local council (Lambeth) officers by shining a light in national media and political circles on Durand’s hitherto hidden amazing 25 year journey.
- To isolate any voices ranged against the school by using positive PR and political lobbying to build an unstoppable coalition in support of the school, its achievements to date, and what it wants to do in the future”.

That’s £200,000 spent on PR, marketing and political lobbying to construct a “brand”.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 11/03/2012 - 17:26

In November 2011, TES reported how the United Church Schools Trust and its subsidiary United Learning Trust (ULT) were advertising for a PR firm to take over a contract worth £1 million over five years.

As schools become more and more in competition with each other to attract pupils, it seems inevitable that money which should be being spent on education will be spent on marketing.

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