The Hollow Government

Like many government departments, the Department for Education is an anaemic institution; less powerful than its opponents believe, yet more unsure of itself than the civil service care to admit. It has had several identities over the last few years, none of which have stuck, but between 2010–2015 it was irreversibly changed by a small group of ideologues. 

Those figures — Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings — are now key players in a government with a large majority. Understanding what happened in the Department for Education is to understand what is about to happen across this government, where a combination of dogmatic advisors, scheming consultants, and contempt for civil servants will dramatically reshape our public institutions.

When you speak to senior officials at the Department for Education there is often mention of a ‘hinge point.’ For them, the department ticked along nicely between 1997 and 2010 until Michael Gove became minister for education. Then it all changed.

https://tribunemag.co.uk/2020/02/the-hollow-government

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Free school given go-ahead despite 1,600 spare places

The government decided to approve an application for a 1,710-place free school despite there being more than 1,600 surplus places within 2 miles of the proposed site, official documents show.

However, the head of the free school has said the numbers used by the Department for Education were “historic” and the extra capacity was needed for an “expanding town”.

The free school impact assessment, published for the first time today, acknowledged that approving plans for Great Western Academy in Swindon would have a “high” impact on three of the closest secondaries, and a “moderate” impact on a fourth.

https://www.tes.com/news/free-school-given-go-ahead-despite-1600-spare-places

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Third of MATs raise £150k+ pay despite DfE probe

More than a third of a group of multi-academy trusts questioned by the government over their high chief executive salaries last year went on to award their top earners more pay, a Tes analysis of their latest accounts shows.

Last February, the Department for Education wrote to 87 MATs asking them to justify and explain why they were paying salaries of more than £150,000.

Of those trusts targeted by the DfE, 61 have now published their accounts for 2018-19. And a Tes analysis reveals that 23 of the MATs (38 per cent) then increased the salary of their chief executive or top earner in 2018-19.

It also shows that three-quarters of these MATs – 46 out of 61 – continued to pay at least one member of staff more than £150,000, despite the government intervention.

https://www.tes.com/news/third-mats-raise-ps150k-pay-despite-dfe-probe

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Tory flagship free school Portakabin Academy rated inadequate

One of the Tory government’s flagship free schools, the Paxton Academy in Thornton Heath, has been handed an “inadequate” rating by Ofsted inspectors in a damning report published this week.

Dubbed the “Portakabin Academy” because it has been based in temporary classrooms on the rugby pitches of Streatham and Croydon RFC since it opened in September 2014, the school’s thrustingly ambitious headteacher, Johnette Barrett, resigned soon after the Ofsted report was published.

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Harris Federation paying 12 staff more than £150k each

New accounts for 2018-19 show that the Harris Federation had 12 members of staff earning more than £150,000 – an increase of one since the previous year – and 31 earning six figures.

They also show the highest paid school leader in the country has seen his salary rise above £450,000 a year.

Sir Dan Moynihan the chief executive of the Harris Federation was paid between £450,001 and £455,000 a year up to August last year.

https://www.tes.com/news/harris-federation-paying-12-staff-more-ps150k-each

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