Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sell ‘em cheap

‘The Guardian’ carried an extract from Francis Beckett’s new book ‘The Great City Academy Fraud’. Labour’s city academies are basically a warmed up version of the Tories failed City Technology Colleges. What do they have in common? Both schemes failed to attract ‘blue-chip’ companies so they were forced to rely on second-hand car dealers, evangelical Christians and egotistical millionaires.

However, their interests are reflected in the fact that of the first 46 academies seven had business as a specialism and another nineteen included it as one of their second or third specialisms. Three secondary schools in Barrow (one deemed by Ofsted to be ‘outstanding’) are being replaced by an academy sponsored by the armaments firm BAE – notorious for bribing the Saudi royal family in order to win fighter plane contracts. Prosecuting BAE was deemed to be ‘not in the national interest’ so the Crown Prosecution Service was ordered to desist from any legal action. Wonder how the new ‘BAE Academy’ will teach ethics?

Labour have used every ruse to try and attract business, the initial investment of £2 million was changed to “up to £2 million”, then to “in cash or in kind”, even with tax relief taking the bill down to £1.2 million there wasn’t a queue knocking on Tony Blair’s door. In desperation in April 2005 they made the notorious “buy two get one free” offer.

In May 2006 ‘The Guardian’ revealed that four academies had not received a single penny from their sponsors and of the 27 up and running only £26 million had been paid. The latest government advice is that “endowments” will be offered over the years.

Academies are just another example of how New Labour are totally in thrall to big business, asked to justify the programme Ruth Kelly said, “business doesn’t tolerate failure”.

The murky side to it all is the connections between Lord Levy as Labour Party fundraiser, his position as president of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (handily housed together in Millbank Tower) and the cash for honours scandal. There’s also the “grubby circle” where former Labour ministers like Lord Filkin and Charles Clarke find work with firms involved in privatising education – Serco and LJ Group.

The academies really are fraud on a grand scale.

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Thanks Mr Read, I had a little look round to see what I could find out about our new Sandwell Academy yesterday, surprisingly, the amount of money spent by the sponsors is being kept a secret. I wonder if that is because it is very little!
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