The Tes reports that the DfE tried to censor documents showing that these 150 short term sites are likely to cost an average of £500,000 each.
A property company set up by the Department for Education to find homes for free schools expects that 150 of the sites it will purchase by 2019 will only be temporary. This revelation comes despite the business case for the company, LocatED, stating that “reducing the need for temporary accommodation” for free schools was a key driver for setting it up.
This suggests that £75 million will be spent on buildings that will only ever be a short-term solution.
Meg Hillier, chair of the House of Commons public accounts committee, said the findings highlight a serious problem, and warned that “in 10 years’ time, this will be the next scandal”.
Today’s news follows a major Tes investigation into LocatED, which has also uncovered:
- Secret plans to “share rewards” from building free schools with private developers
- Special arrangements that allow LocatED to pay staff more than the prime minister and an exemption from the public sector pay cap
- The cost of LocatED’s own prime central London office accommodation
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said the findings called into question whether LocatED provides value for its £2 billion budget.
She says: “On one hand, we keep being told that there’s not enough money, but on the other, the DfE seems content to throw millions at a project that won’t even be fulfilling its job properly. This is an outrageous waste of funds that should be going into frontline teaching.”
Do you teach on a free school site? Does it have adequate facilities? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter? ~ Tamsin
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