Union says Durham shows the folly of handing over taxpayers’ money to unaccountable groups to run schools

NUTThe NUT has called on the government to end its free school programme, saying the closure of  Durham Free School shows the folly of handing over taxpayers’ money to unaccountable groups.

The government yesterday announced it was to terminate the school’s funding agreement after the school was put in special measures following a damning Ofsted report highlighting bullying.

NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The news that the Durham Free School is set to close will come as a shock to parents and pupils who have been badly let down by this Government. It is clear from the school’s Ofsted report that it was failing to provide a sufficiently high standard of education for its pupils and the Education Funding Agency’s financial notice to improve made clear that the school did not have a sufficient grip on its finances.

“But this is best seen as a failure of the free schools policy. Local authorities can help schools to improve, but Westminster has no effective ways in which to support free schools so instead ends up with these sorts of massively destabilising announcements. The children at this secondary school will now need to settle in alternative schools, which is an unwelcome disruption to their education. In addition, even more taxpayers’ money will now have to be spent on closing down costs such as redundancy pay and rent overhangs.

“This sad state of affairs shows the folly of handing over taxpayers’ money to unaccountable groups to run schools. The parents, children and teachers at Durham Free School are suffering because of the failures of the free school programme.

“Nicky Morgan should now announce an end to the free school programme which has been plainly shown not to work. All schools should be subject to oversight and accountability by their local authorities. That is the only way to ensure high standards and financial probity.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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