Transfer of Blackburn school will cost £27,000
10:00am Friday 13th September 2013 in News
A TRANSFER of a new build school from council management to an Islamic academy will cost £27,000 of public funds.
Plans to transform Witton Park High School into the ‘flagship’ of Blackburn-based Tauheedul Sponsored Academies group, will cost nearly three times as much as the usual £10,000 academy transfer costs.
Hamid Patel, chief executive of TSA, said the move would mean the Buncer Lane school would benefit long term.
Blackburn with Darwen Council are obliged under government academy rules to hand the school over, and pay the legal and admin costs involved.
As the school is newly built, and still under mortgage-like funding arrangements from private business, higher than average legal costs are involved.
The transfer plan, rubber stamped as part of a 125 year peppercorn lease this week, has been slammed by teaching unions, who said it was unfair a newly rebuilt school with public money was to go its own way.
NUT Blackburn with Darwen Secretary Simon Jones also slammed the legal costs involved.
He said: “That’s more than the cost of a newly qualified teacher and money that should be spent on the kids.
“Standards won’t be improved by this transfer at all. The appeal is all about competing for pupils and schools think there is a marketing advantage in becoming an academy. No real benefit for children will be achieved with this money.”
Blackburn with Darwen Council’s member for schools Dave Harling said: “We don’t have a choice, we have to transfer it over under government rules.
“As it is going to happen, we want to work with Witton Park in a positive way.
“Because there are Private Finance Inititiave contracts to hand over, the legal costs are more than usual. It is frustrating to have to find £27,000 but the important thing is that every child has access to quality education.”
Academies have more freedom than other state schools over their finances, the curriculum, and teachers’ pay and conditions.
They are funded directly by central government, instead of receiving their funds via a local authority. Witton Park moved into its state-of-the-art building last September after it was given £25million of private finance initiative cash.
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