Part of the government’s flagship free schools programme is
facing mounting financial difficulties because of its unpopularity with
parents and pupils, with schools forced to pay back millions of pounds
to the Department for Education and cut staff after failing to attract
and retain students.
University technical colleges (UTCs), a type of free school
in England that was launched in 2010, ran up debts of £14m last year
after many fell short of their forecasts for pupil numbers. Others had
to borrow money from the DfE’s funding arm, throwing into question their
Research by the Price Bailey accountancy firm disclosed to the Guardian reveals that 31 out of 40 UTCs with published accounts owe money to the DfE’s education and skills funding agency (ESFA), including 25 schools owing a total of £8.6m after educating fewer pupils than they received funding for through their general annual grant.
More than 300 primary schools across England have been forced to
become academies in the last three years against a backdrop of mounting
opposition from parents, a Guardian investigation has revealed.
Analysis of government data has shown that 314 schools were forcibly removed from local authority control after being rated inadequate by Ofsted. The Department for Education (DfE) has paid out at least £18.4m to academy trusts for taking on the schools.
Parents and teachers fighting to stop their primary school being
taken out of local authority control and turned into an academy have won
a temporary reprieve.
Waltham Holy Cross primary school in
Waltham Abbey in Essex was due to be transferred to a multi-academy
trust on Monday after failing an Ofsted inspection in March 2018.
Parents and teachers, who have been taking part in a series of strike days in protest against academisation, say they were given the news that the transfer had been postponed while on a picket line at the school on Thursday.