£60m spent on free schools

(37 Posts)
ipadquietly Fri 28-Jun-13 20:09:28

This just makes me SOOOOOOOOO cross angry

I want a revolution!
www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-23105698

muminlondon Sun 07-Jul-13 13:18:34

Sorry, meant 'amount per pupil' at Saxmundham. According to the census there are 110 pupils in three year groups.

So just putting those start-up costs against figures in the census, some of the costlier secondary schools in their first year (e.g. more than six times average spend per pupil in established schools) are:

Atherton Community School: £1,416,794 - 40 pupils
King's Leadership Academy: £1,414,614 - 45 pupils
Wapping High School: £1,253,757 - 35 pupils

None have yet been inspected by Ofsted but I notice the King's Leadership Academy made a false claim about being Outstanding.

muminlondon Sun 07-Jul-13 12:07:18

I don't think anyone has linked to the actual financial data per school. Start-up costs pre-opening and in first year include e.g. 'books and equipment', headteacher, etc.

media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/xlsx/f/free%20schools%20revenue%20expenditure.xlsx

Capital expenditure is here but incomplete.

Several free schools of a similar size received over £1 million. The DfE points to some sponsored academies of 500-600 pupils which received between £634,000 and £1,374,820 of start-up funding during their first year of opening.

Discovery New School spent £362,085 start-up costs for 114 places and (48 pupils on the roll), and is now in special measures but cost twice the amount per pupil in other established schools.

Saxmundham Free School received over £2 million. It has capacity for 540 places but 70% of its places were unfilled after the initial round of applications according to a local report. So in its first year it cost four times the amount that the average two-form entry primary would receive.

muminlondon Mon 01-Jul-13 00:40:30

I'm 100% for consistent standards, good teaching and support for weaker or challenged schools/pupils. But the problem with so many government announcements is the macho aggression, and policy of forced academisation when there is no evidence that sponsored academies - or free schools - get better results or Ofted ratings.

The problem with the Montessori school in special measures (as I said on another thread) is that it was founded by a husband and wife team who are both managers and governors. Ofsted has found leadership and governance wanting but who will now step in and be accountable for these problems seeing as Mr and Mrs Snowdon think they own the school?

teacherwith2kids Sun 30-Jun-13 21:23:46

I am exaggerating, a little, to make a point. Naice middle class schools in naice areas have no excuse not to get very, very close to 100% and should be slated if they don't - but aren't always, as not everyone digs below the 'top of the league table' scores to see the value added.

Schools in other areas have to work exceptionally hard to get much lower results, but actually achieve greater pupil progress than schools with much higher results. Which is the better school??

teacherwith2kids Sun 30-Jun-13 21:21:27

Ask mrz - she and I both have experience of significant numbers of children arriving in school with no SEN, but no spoken language...to learn to speak, you have to be spoken to.

ReallyTired Sun 30-Jun-13 21:13:04

"So when a school has 80% of its children taking KS2 SATS having English as a second language, having arrived in England - and that school - since the age of 7 is it a failure of the school if fewer than 65% of the cohort reach Level 4??"

Schools are allowed to discount the results of children who arrived in year 5 and year 6. There are schools in London that get over such adversity though.

"Or if 60% are on FSM in the middle of a community with hugely high unemployment?"

There are schools like that that do get reasonable results. The theory is that pupil premium should over come such hurdles.

"Or if many of the children arrived in Reception pre-verbal, not toilet trained and having no concept of interaction with an adult?"

Special schools do not do SATs exams. Are there really many mainstream schools where many of the children are ", not toilet trained and having no concept of interaction with an adult"

In my daughter's nursery there are two children like that and both of them have substantial medical special needs and statements.

meditrina Sun 30-Jun-13 20:57:33

It's never been a "mean" and Dof Ed publications have always referred to Level 4 as what the 'vast majority' and the typical student should attain. The proportion getting the expected level should be up in the 90%s.

Certain SEN, ESOL and new arrivals in UK are of course all excluded from the figures.

teacherwith2kids Sun 30-Jun-13 20:56:42

So when a school has 80% of its children taking KS2 SATS having English as a second language, having arrived in England - and that school - since the age of 7 is it a failure of the school if fewer than 65% of the cohort reach Level 4??

Or if 60% are on FSM in the middle of a community with hugely high unemployment?

Or if many of the children arrived in Reception pre-verbal, not toilet trained and having no concept of interaction with an adult?

You MUST take account of starting point and progress. Education is about sprogress, not about a series of absolutel arkers.

For some schools, less than 100% Level 4+ is absolute failure and should be regarded as such. For others, 50% is miraculous, supurb progress, and involves children making such extraordinary strides over a short period that they will fly into the next stage of their education. There is no one size fits all.

teacherwith2kids Sun 30-Jun-13 20:51:25

If the Ofsted report ONLY said that children were at risk of leaving school unable to read, but that leadership was good, strategy was clear, SEN children were being properly identified and helped (rather than 'being on the SEN register incorrectly because all they needed was good teaching'), statutory paperwork was in place and the governors had a clear idea of what was going on, ad that the children weren't wandering around aimlessly in lessons or sitting passively for significant periods with their coats on way before the end of the school day, the report would make happier reading, and could indeed just be said to be 'indicative of the good implementation of a very different style of education'. The fact that it criticises ALL facets of the school goes way beyond 'Montessori just being Montessori', and does a disservice to Montessori as a teaching ideology.

ReallyTired Sun 30-Jun-13 20:51:03

Teaching standards have risen dramatically in the last 20 years across the world. What was an acceptable standard of education in the past is not acceptable today. There are simply not the jobs in a high tech economy for children who cannot read or do maths to a decent standard.

We need to compete harder with the rest of the world and ensure that 35% of children are not left behind.

teacherwith2kids Sun 30-Jun-13 20:46:27

No, level 4 was originally set up as the MEAN level of a cohort of children at the end of year 6, not a MINIMUM level that they should all pass. According to the original definition, 50% of children should be distributed on either side of the 'mid level 4' mean.

meditrina Sun 30-Jun-13 20:39:18

As level 4 was originally set up as the level which all NT pupils should reach by end KS2, allowing 35% to fail is a huge slackening of standards, and one which I think does a grave disservice to this generation of children compared to those who went just before them.

muminlondon Sun 30-Jun-13 20:35:15

'I don't think ofsted should apply one size is right for all for different types of school'

But that's exactly what Gove is doing with his prescriptive national curriculum and floor targets of 65% getting level 4 in SATS irrespective of where they were at 5 or 7, otherwise an academy sponsor is imposed.

I sympathise with your view that children develop at different rates but it's unacceptable for the government to be obsessively dictatorial with 95% of primary schools but cool about lack of evidence of progress at academies/free schools. It would be double standards and Ofsted is meant to be independent - though I agree Gove's policies on freedom/prescription are weirdly inconsistent.

And read the Ofsted report because a lot of the criticism is about inadequate leadership, governance and assessment of special needs children.

78bunion Sun 30-Jun-13 19:55:35

The Montessori one which was criticised was just being Montessori which involves learning to read later but they soon catch up. I don't think ofsted should apply one size is right for all for different types of school. Plenty of other countries' schools start at 6 and 7 for formal learning in places like Holland and the children soon catch up and exceed British children.

muminlondon Sun 30-Jun-13 19:15:36

Butmedtrina that still assumes that a chain or other provider runs the school. I know some for-profit providers like GEMS are trying to chisel their way into the market this way. There's still no local oversight or control - it's purely 'commissioning'. But not worth spending the time on because Labour will change the legislation when it next gets in so it's uncertain and a lot of hassle for no control.

muminlondon Sun 30-Jun-13 19:09:11

Or they can invite a diocese to open a voluntary aided school which is the only type of maintained school they can open without a competition.

Free school proposers apply direct to the DfE who direct the transfer of council land even if they are opposed to the school because of a possible negative impact on other schools. Islington is one example where the council moved a school from an unsuitable crumbling old building aimng to sell off some land to pay for a refurb and build social housing. But they won't get their money or housing after all. The new free school will either need lots of money for a new building or will be housed in the unsuitable old building. And might not fill up. It's not really joined up thinking and ignores local consultation.

meditrina Sun 30-Jun-13 19:04:08

Local Authorities can open Free schools - if no academy backer can be found. The site I've linked isn't exactly an enthusiastic supporter of the new school structures. But its basic facts tend to be right.

muminlondon Sun 30-Jun-13 18:57:28

LAs can't open free schools - that's the point. They can sort of be involved through a convoluted trust arrangement with other partners (like in Kingston) but have no political control whatsoever and can't do anything if the trustees adopt a different religious ethos and change the admissions policies.

They can invite academy bids but any council land gets transferred to the trust and the school gets controlled by a chain like Ark or Harris.

ReallyTired Sun 30-Jun-13 18:39:06

Our LEA has already opened a couple of free schools. The level of red tape is an unbelivable waste of money. I feel that LEAs should have the freedom to open schools without having to go through the same hoops as amatuers like Toby Young.

meditrina Sun 30-Jun-13 18:33:37

Free schools to date are more about expanding parental choice than about fixing the impending crisis over numbers of places.

LEAs can of course open new schools as free schools (yes, I know it sounds illogical, but that's how it is) if they can't find an acedemy sponsor for a new school. I think we shall see more of this in the coming years.

muminlondon Sun 30-Jun-13 18:30:24

teacherwith2kids - do you mean school census? School level data is in the zip file so needs a bit of analysis - stats by year group is file 'School_levelncyear_2013.csv'.

So in the census are 79 free schools, of which 8 are alternative provision or special and 71 'mainstream' schools with 10,130 FTE pupils this year. But they're in various years.

37 primaries have 3190 pupils (35 have pupils in reception FT or PT, only 1 with more than 60 pupils, 13 with less than 30 pupils)
34 secondaries have 6940 pupils (30 have Y7 pupils, only 10 with more than 100 pupils).

So difficult to calculate costs per pupil or value for money because the schools are not full. Four of those secondaries with over 100 pupils have had Ofsted inspections. One good so far, the other three require improvement.

£40m divided by 72 schools according to BBC is half a million per school not including any capital costs but much was wasted on schools that didn't open. Otherwise, overheads will be proportionately higher with lots of tiny schools unless they are managed by chains and share headteachers, etc.

soverylucky Sun 30-Jun-13 17:04:51

I really feel this whole policy is like a time bomb waiting to explode. How can the costs be justified? Where is the accountability?

teacherwith2kids Sun 30-Jun-13 15:30:52

But muminlondon, unless I am missing something, there isn't a convenient way of dissecting out the free schools from the other 'state funded primary / secindary' schools from that data?

What it would be interesting to know is:
Cost of a free school place per child in them.

muminlondon Sun 30-Jun-13 15:01:29

ipadquietly- pupil numbers in the January 2013 school census have been published here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/schools-pupils-and-their-characteristics-january-2013

A more convenient way of looking at that data is in Edubase but it hasn't got the 2013 data yet.

ragged - no, not enough Ofsted inspections of free schools to form an overall view yet. I think of 7 out of 11 schools inspected have been good; primaries mostly good, secondaries mostly need to improve (especially ex-independent sector), none outstanding yet. Easy to filter and sort results on the Ofsted data tab of the performance tables (e.g. here ) - updated every month.

The national picture of Ofsted ratings is on Ofsted Dataview which shows 69% of all schools good/outstanding and 4% inadequate. You can filter to change the graphics for sponsor-led academies too. But some ratings are under the old framework - the latest picture is as of December 2012.

AcrylicPlexiglass Sat 29-Jun-13 20:24:20

OMG! That ofsted report for the free school in Crawley is stunningly damning!

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