Gove assigns 133 civil servants to free schools project despite only 24 being open
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Tuesday 10 April 2012
Education Secretary Michael Gove has succonded 133 civil servants to oversee his free schools project despite the fact only 24 of the schools are open.
The National Union of Teachers today criticised Mr Gove for dedicating £337.2 million of taxpayers money to his free school and academies programme since taking office in April 2010.
In particular, Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT. questioned the need for 133 civil servants – 126 junior staff and seven senior managers – to work purely on free schools.
The union argues that would allow each free school to have its own dedicated civil servant as, currently, there are only 24 up and running with a further 70 in the pipeline over the next 12 months.
“It is quite extraordinary that in these times of cut backs and austerity, the Government has found £337.2 million to support its academies and free schools programme,” she said.
“Free schools are absorbing an increasing proportion of DfE staff resources at a time when the department as a whole is shrinking.
“This programme will create a chaotic and unaccountable education system. Michael Gove most urgently rethink this policy which is neither needed nor wanted and is a
dreadful waste of public resources and money.”
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "Well over a milllion pupils are taught in academies and free schools. It is ridiculous to suggest that money spent on them is wasted.
"These schools are spearheading the Government's reforms to drive up standards. Free schools are proving hugely popular with parents.”
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