Michael Gove hands school £17m
School dubbed 'the Eton of the state sector' has the enthusiastic support of the Education Secretary
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.
Sunday 24 November 2013
A government decision to give a planned state boarding school in the heart of the Sussex countryside £17 million to set up will come under attack from a senior headteacher today.
The school dubbed “the Eton of the state sector” has the enthusiastic support of Education Secretary Michael Gove although questions have been raised over its financial viability.
However, Roy Page, chairman of the State Boarding Schools Association, will tell his annual conference this afternoon that the award comes at a time when existing state boarding schools are being forced to teach their pupils in crumbling buildings dating back to the 15th century.
Mr Page, headmaster of the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, will attack ministers for a “lack of vision” as to how they can support existing state boarding schools while handing out millions to “an organisation and headmaster with no experience in boarding”
They are ready to pay for training staff but neglect the buildings.
“We may end up with wonderfully trained staff in buildings collapsing around them, with boarders running for cover and prospective parents - and Ofsted inspectors - frankly horrified,” he will say.
“For two years now we have been seeking clarity and security from the Government concerning capital investment in the fabric of state boarding schools. We are in dire need of it.”
All of this is in stark contrast to the decision to hand the Durand Education Trust £17 million “no questions asked” to set up the new boarding school in the village of Stedham, West Sussex, which will take in secondary school age pupils from Stockwell in south London.
He said the funding decision had been “quite rightly” queried by the Commons public accounts committee and public spending watchdogs the National Audit Office.
The Sussex scheme is to be financed jointly by the Department for Education and the Durand Education Trust, set up by the Durand Academy - an existing primary school in Stockwell whose pupils will be able to transfer to the new boarding school. The trust earns income from a health club, swimming pool and residential property near the primary school. The scheme is the brainchild of Sir Greg Martin, head of the primary school.
Earlier this year, Mr Gove’s department was censured by the NAO with its head, Amyas Morse, saying the proposal lacked “sufficiently robust estimates of the financial risk of the project”.
A summary of the NAO’s investigation sent to Chris Wormald, the Permanent Secretary at the DfE, said: “At the point which it decided to confirm funding (for the project), the department lacked sufficient appreciation of the scale of financial and operating risk involved”.
Melvyn Roffe, a former chairman of the SBSA, said the sum set aside for providing a boarding school education - “1, 100 per pupil - was “ludicrous”.
A spokeswoman for the DfE said: “Durand is an innovative and inspirational project which has enormous potential.
“The decision to fund this school is part of our commitment to allow good schools to expand and closing the unacceptable attainment gap.”
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...
£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...
£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...
£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...