Last week, the FT revealed that Michael Gove was planning to introduce direct funding of schools, a move that weaken local authorities’
grip on education funding. Theoretically, it is a central component of Gove’s plan to free schools from local authorities’ bureaucratic control in a bid to improve standards by creating
a quasi-market. It was, as Gove’s aides have been at pains to express, ‘exciting’.
But Gove denied the story on Andrew Marr this morning: the legislation will contain no such clause. The FT responded this afternoon, proving that Gove has diluted the legislation. The original White Paper contained
this emphatic sentence: ‘Local authorities will pass the national funding formula allocation directly to maintained schools until the Education Funding Agency comes into existence.’
Tim Montgomerie asks several pertinent questions about this latest
‘Something has clearly happened to dilute the White Paper. Liberal Democrat opposition? Unhappiness from councillors? We may never know but it certainly has been diluted.’
We may never know, but I’d say the second of Tim’s two options is more likely. A couple of weeks back, the Evening Standard reported how local councillors and ideological headmasters were depicting Gove as an agent of draconian
central government against local people and their representatives (a problem created by the ill-defined
Big Society). The Spectator has also revealed (here and here) how several local authorities are stonewalling parents’
attempts to inaugurate reform. If Gove has fallen at the first funding hurdle, it bodes badly for his whole project.