The myth about free-schools has finally been laid to rest with the publication that the Department for Education (DfE) has spent nearly £340m on free schools and academies since the General election in 2010.
This money has come from the general taxation of ordinary citizens including those from Kirklees. So much for the assertion made by Leslie Surman of the Birkenshaw free-school self-interest group that the formation of the school would not cost the local taxpayers a penny.
We also now know that the former fee-paying Batley Grammar school has also been granted free-school status which means that the parents of the 200 pupils there no longer have to pay the £9,000 per annum fees. A sum of £1.8m has been effectively given to them so it really has become a free school as far as they are concerned.
The diversion of DfE funding to free schools has also shown up another anomaly whereby the diversion of pupils from other local authority schools means that their funding is decreased being based on pupil numbers. Of course the overheads of running a school does not decrease when pupil numbers and the funding decreases.
This Tory-led government is forever reminding us that we are all in this together so we need to compare the DfE’s largesse regarding free-schools and academies with the situation covered in this paper last year concerning the plight of some less well-off parents in relation to the closure of Sure Start centres and nursery provisions.
These are under threat due to the cutting of the funding support to local authorities at the same time as this £340m DfE expenditure.