Academy schools – the next privatisation domino to fall?

More than half of the major operators of the government’s flagship academies programme have sounded the alarm over school funding, heaping further pressure on Theresa May to ease the squeeze on public spending.

An Observer investigation into the Conservatives’ treasured education initiative found that six out of the top 10 academy trusts, which operate hundreds of schools across England, have raised warnings over pressures on pay, staffing levels, building maintenance and mounting deficits.

The revelation will worry Tory MPs, many of whom blame pressures on school budgets for the party’s disastrous election result last year. It comes with the prime minister already under intense pressure over NHS funding and facing internal criticism over a lack of focus on domestic issues.

An analysis of the most recent accounts of leading multi-academy trusts reveals that eight of the top 13 largest groups have issued warnings. One said that funding was failing to keep pace with costs and inflation, creating risks of “unsustainable deficits” and staff cuts. …”

One thought on “Academy schools – the next privatisation domino to fall?

  1. So you have an existing school and an existing budget, and you turn it into an Academy School and transfer the budget (and any reserves that the school has managed to accumulate) to a private company.

    That private company pays large salaries to its executives, dividends to its shareholders (which will come straight off the top of the payments for running the schools), and needs to pay an extra group of people to manage its contract. Unsurprisingly, it cannot deliver the same level and quality of education and facilities maintenance with the same budget – so it uses up the financial reserves and then comes cap in hand to the government for a budget increase.

    And if it doesn’t get the extra money, it just hands the school back to the government in a sorry state, without financial reserves, and washes its hands of it, leaving it in a limbo where the local education authority is no longer responsible and where the government won’t admit that there is a problem – cherry picking of the worst kind because it is the children that suffer.

    (In a small number of cases, which we have read about in the newspapers, the reserves have simply been transferred to their own bank accounts and then the school handed back – demonstrating that Academisation has been pushed through without a sound legal framework behind it to safeguard such funds.)

    So, aside from illogical ideological Conservative Party dogma that privatisation of everything is essential to cut costs, the purpose of privatising these schools was what?

    If you have to give the schools more money to keep going, why not do it as a public service and not have to pay the executive salaries and dividends which are simply a waste of money. And because the public service cannot simply “hand the school back” it has to take a longer-term view of investment and prudence with the financial reserves.

    (Or is it quid-pro-quo payback to the Academy School executives and shareholders who made those big “donations” to the Conservative Party and who then had nice, cosy, secret, over-dinner chats with the Education Minister? As they say, if it looks like corruption and smells like corruption, then it probably is corruption – which is why transparency is essential in public decision making in a democratic society.)

    P.S. If you have read my comments before, I have challenged everyone several times to come up with an example of a privatisation or outsourcing contract that is beneficial to the public in the long run. No one has EVER come up with an example, and the above is a simplified explanation of why no one can.


Comments are closed.