West London Free School among missing data
Capital costs for seven of the first 24 free schools are still not known. The Department for Education (DfE) updated its information in July adding data for a further 51. But land purchase, building or refurbishment costs for seven free schools opening in September 2011 are not included. Information about these hasn’t been updated since July 2013, five years ago.
It’s seems unbelievable that capital costs for these seven schools haven’t been finalised in five years.
The high-profile West London Free School, founded by controversial journalist Toby Young, is one of these. It’s unclear why the cost of the school’s permanent home at Palingswick House isn’t known: accounts for WLFS Academy Trust (now Knowledge Schools Trust) for year ending August 2016* say it was ‘completed in January 2016’.
Two ARK free schools not listed
Construction costs of two ARK first wave free schools, ARK Atwood Primary Academy and ARK Conway Primary Academy haven’t been released.
Former private school missing
Barnfield Moorlands, a former private school, is among those whose capital costs aren’t included. But Ofsted’s inspection in January confirmed the school, now renamed The Linden Academy, moved to its new building in January 2016. Again, are we to believe that the cost of this isn’t finalised?
New accommodation destined to open in 2014, but cost still unpublished
Canary Wharf College, now Canary Wharf College East Ferry, was undergoing redevelopment when Ofsted arrived in July 2013. Completion was expected in September 2014. Unless the work is four years overdue, there’s no reason why the cost shouldn’t be published.
£4m for new premises not included
Rainbow Primary School, a free school in Bradford, would move to a £4m renovated fire station in January 2014., New Schools Network said. But the £4m isn’t in the published free school capital costs.
Capital costs of rebrokered free school not in public domain
The former Aldborough E-Act free school was rebrokered from E-Act to Loxford School Trust in 2014. Loxford received £110k in transfer fees. But capital costs for the free school, now Aldborough Primary School, have not been released.
Nearly 400 free schools open: capital costs known for just 107
The DfE seems to be dragging its feet on free school capital costs. NSN says there are 393 open free schools. But the DfE’s updated list only gives capital costs for 107. No free schools opened in 2016 or after are included.
This is taxpayers’ money. Taxpayers have a right to know how much it costs to buy and build free schools in a timely manner.
My freedom of information request about free school capital funding is here.
*available from Companies House.