” … The invention of academies has involved a different kind of transfer of assets (schools) from public hands to private. In most cases, publicly owned schools are leased to academies and trusts on 125-year leases, with the local authority retaining the deeds. The academies must carry on educating children but can “maximise their assets” by using the premises to raise money. It is this area of money-making that has on occasions caused problems, as with Durand academy and its on-site businesses.
Academies can also flog off land and buildings, if the much weakened local authorities agree. Serious money can be made, management salaries are high, and hidden in all this is the long-term public subsidy in such sites.
The birth rate didn’t stay low. Children need schools. The very same councils that flogged off their prized school buildings are forced to squeeze children into overcrowded schools elsewhere in their districts. Fair enough: children from overcrowded homes should go to overcrowded schools, eh? Local authorities are not allowed to open new ones. The government solution is to use our money to send search squads to find and buy sites for new schools, some at enormous cost, such as £7.6m paid for a former police station, some within spitting distance of the ones now converted into flats.
I must remind myself that these new schools are called “free” and I do hope that these transactions and new arrangements have enabled a few thousand people to make some serious money out of the public sector. …”