Money No Object For Privatising Schools

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A REPORT published yesterday by the public spending watchdog the National Audit Office reveals the massive amount of money the Tory-led coalition is prepared to spend in order to completely privatise schools.

The NAO reports that the government has spent £8.3 billion on its drive to turn schools into academies; this is £1 billion more than was budgeted for and this overspend will be clawed back by slashing the funding to schools that are outside the academies scheme and remain in the public sector.

£350 million extra cuts will be made from the funding of other educational services with £95 million coming off spending on school improvements for non-academy schools.

This is on top of a £100 million cut already this year in the spending on ‘under-performing’ schools to help them achieve a higher level.

A similar amount has been cut from the budget earmarked for use in helping 16 to 19-year-olds remain in full-time education.

Last week Michael Gove, the Tory education minister, boasted of how he was cutting budgets deeper than any other Tory minister when he announced that the Department of Education would be sacking 1,000 civil servants.

It is now clear that, while savage cuts are the order of the day for civil servants and schools still under local authority control, unlimited amounts of money can be found for academies.

The report also contained the revelation that six of the most senior figures involved in pushing academies earn on average £6,600 more a year than their counterparts at locally maintained schools.

It also uncovered the fact that double the amount of civil servants, 280, have been seconded to the ‘academies project’.

Academies were first brought in by the Labour government as a step towards introducing private companies into state education, a step that has been seized upon and expanded by Cameron and Gove to bring in full privatisation of schools and colleges.

Since the coalition took power in 2010 academies have exploded, rising from 210 to 2,309 by September 2012 – academies now swallow up 15% of the entire educational budget.

Gove’s stated intention is to transform every school – secondary and primary – into academies run and ‘owned’ by private companies.

The next step for the government will be to pass legislation to permit these companies to run schools as openly profit-making concerns paying dividends to shareholders.

At present, this is restricted to further education colleges but the intention is to make this the basis for all education.

Not that the private companies who are running existing academies are not making a profit from them already.

They are able to charge exorbitant fees for any service they provide, services that were previously provided free by local authorities.

In addition, thanks to a little commented upon part of the legislation that set up academies, in order to attain academy status schools are forced to transfer their property deeds, including the deeds to playing fields, to the new private educational providers.

What this means is that when a school becomes an academy and leaves local authority control, all its property, land and buildings are passed on for nothing to the privateers.

This transfer of public money to private companies, courtesy of the government, is nothing more than a massive asset-stripping exercise that has nothing to do with the education of young people and everything to do with lining the pockets of speculators.

So far, £1 billion of public assets has been transferred to the privateer vultures in this way.

With the government driving the privatisation of the entire education system, there is only one way to prevent the destruction of state education and that is to kick the government out through a general strike and go forward to a workers government and socialism.