Latest Public Sector News

14.12.11

Private firm bid for free school

A new free school in Suffolk could be managed by Swedish company IES UK.

Free schools cannot be run for profit, but trusts can buy in services from private firms.

The group setting up Breckland free school is the Sabres Educational Trust, which wants to open the school for 300 pupils by September 2012.

Some are concerned that this will lead to too much private sector involvement in state education, although the trust suggests it is simply the most practical way of setting up the school.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, said: “It is nothing short of scandalous that the future of our children and young people is now up for sale to the highest bidder.”

But a Department for Education spokesperson said: “Free schools are funded like all other state-funded schools – on a per pupil basis.

“Over 10 years a successful, fully-subscribed school of this size may well see this level of revenue funding to pay for pupils' education. From this, like any other state-funded school, it would have to pay for its substantial operating costs.

“Free schools founders do not and can not make a profit.

“State schools and their local authorities have always been able to use companies to help them run services in schools – from human resources, to ordering stationery, to school catering and providing educational advice.

“In this case, the free school’s charitable trust has decided that it wants to draw on the expertise of an established education company, with a proven track record of running good schools. This is not the same as the free school proposers making a profit themselves.”

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