For the record, this is the text of my letter published in the Nottingham Post last week, drawing heavily on the Guardian article of a few days earlier:
“I wonder if your readers have seen the revelations in both The Guardian and Telegraph newspapers about, as one of their headlines put it, “Tax-payer funded academies paying millions to private firms”, on 12 and 13 January. It turns out that, in a number of academies and academy chains, there are clear conflicts of interest with firms owned by, or connected with, directors of the edubusinesses running them, earning huge amounts for services rendered.
Reading the catalogue I was flabbergasted to learn that no rules appear to have been broken: a change of the rules is clearly needed! To me, and to others I’m sure, it has provided further evidence that Michael Gove, David Cameron, the Conservatives and their Lib-Dem ‘fellow travellers’ are indeed intent on giving control of our state schools to private companies to profit from, as I suggested in my recent letter to the Post.
I would like to believe that Michael Gove genuinely believes that handing our schools over to a supposed ‘market’ will, in itself, improve teaching and therefore outcomes, a thoroughly misguided belief, in my view. However, evidence is mounting to the contrary.
Too many times in the Guardian/Telegraph articles we find ‘Conservatives party donors’ turn up in the mix; and where financial mismanagement – even fraud – is being investigated, in the case of Bradford’s Kings Science Academy, we find that a Conservative Party Vice-Chairman is ‘executive sponsor’ (whatever that is!) and the school was built on land he owns and from which he profits through rent to the tune of £6 million over 20 years!
Furthermore, a ‘venture capitalist’, John (now Lord) Nash, whose company Future Education, opened several academies and free schools, was ennobled and then appointed an Education Minister, to oversee – guess what – ‘free schools’; another Tory donor was created Lord Harris and now runs the Harris academy chain (he made his money through Carpetright, so a background in education is obviously not a requirement).
Surely it is now crystal clear: ‘they’ want to give our schools (and free rein to open new ‘free schools’) to private business, from which to profit, at the expense of us taxpayers and our children.”
NB – as I have not actually seen the printed version, this text may have been slightly edited. Got a ‘thumbs up’ from a local head teacher I bumped into in a coffee shop yesterday, so I know it appeared!