Socialist Worker

Gove's free school snatches millions from Islington council

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2360

The Tories have taken control of a north London school and handed it to a trust made up of profit-making firms—for free.

Ashmount Primary School in Islington was due to move to a nearby site because of problems with the existing building. 

Islington council planned to sell the old site at a reduced rate to a housing association so that it could build social housing.

 It expected to get around £3 million from the sale, which would then be invested in schools.

Some 90 percent of parents and two thirds of residents backed the move.

But the Education Funding Agency, an arm of Tory Michael Gove’s Department for Education has thrown this plan into disarray. 

It has taken control of the site without paying any compensation to the council.

It is now set to become Islington Free Primary School, which was approved by Gove in May.

“I don’t think Gove could sink much lower than this,” Ken Muller, a teacher in Islington, told Socialist Worker.

“He is robbing £3 million from schools and stopping the building of social housing.”

There are more than 13,000 households on Islington council’s waiting list. 

And the free school will create extra school spaces in an area forecast to have surplus places.

Bellevue Place Education Trust will run the school. 

The trust is made up of two profit making firms—Bellevue Education and Place Group.

Firms aren’t allowed to run schools for profit in Britain. 

Yet Gove has said if elected in 2015 the Tories would allow firms to profit from schools. 

But there is a fightback from parents, teachers and activists. 

“We were already campaigning against the planned free school,” said Ken.

“This announcement will motivate us to step it up.”


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