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GOVE PS400M GRAB FROM NEEDY KIDS; He cuts vital cash for basics to prop up his 'failing' free schools.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE by Nigel Nelson POLITICAL EDITOR and Julie Henry

MICHAEL Gove is taking PS400million from needy children to support his struggling free schools.

The Education Secretary is raiding his Basic Need budget - which is meant to provide extra school places or build new schools - to fill a likely PS800million black hole in spending on free schools by 2016. A Whitehall source said: "The Tories are putting the needs of their pet projects ahead of the requirements of 24,000 other schools in the country."

Mr Gove is now at war with his Lib Dem deputy David Laws who furiously opposes cutting Basic Need from PS2.75billion to PS2.35billion over three years. The missing cash could provide 30,000 more school places.

It comes as a Sunday People probe reveals that free schools are failing THREE TIMES more often than normal schools.

Of 45 checked by the schools' watchdog Ofsted since the start of last year, five have been condemned as "inadequate" and 10 told they need improvement.

Website www.watchsted.com say schools' failure rate is nearly 11% compared to just three per cent in regular schools.

In the latest damning report inspectors said lessons at Hawthorne's Free School, a secondary in Bootle, Merseyside were so bad even teachers spelled words wrongly.

Ofsted also found falling attendance, low maths scores and that poorer children were doing worse than others.

Two of the failed free schools have closed - Discovery, a primary in Crawley, West Sussex, and Al-Madinah, an Islamic secondary in Derby.

In another blow to Mr Gove, half the new free primaries open this year failed to fill their places despite high national demand.

WARN: at Al-It's a "damning indictment" that of 26 due to open in September, 13 have unfilled places, say Labour.

The Public Accounts Committee also backs Labour's claim that free schools are opening in the wrong locations.

More than 40 have launched in areas with no place shortage but none are planned in half the areas with high or severe need. Now one of the free school programme's sponsors has blasted the way they are run.

Ronda Fogel, executive director of the Constable Educational Trust, which stopped sponsoring two free schools before poor Ofsted reports came out, told the TES education magazone of too little "joined-up thinking" and a lack of good teachers.

In free schools 13% of teachers are untrained compared to 3.8% in the system as a whole.

Ofsted visit Madina school Free schools were launched by the Tories in 2010 and 170 have been opened by firms, charities, sponsors and parent groups. They are not run by councils but still get state cash.

A Department for Education spokesman admitted more free schools had been judged "inadequate" but said under tougher new Ofsted rules the disparity was now just 9% to 6%.

"The vast majority are performing well." he added. "The latest data shows 69% rated good or outstanding compared to 64% of all schools." A spokesman said it was common for new schools to have unfilled places.

nigel.nelson@people.co.uk | Voice of the Sunday People: page 14 Gove

Ofsted report: Attendance dropping,some TEACHERS spelling words incorrectly

CAPTION(S):

WARN: Ofsted visit at Al-Madina school

PET PROJECT: Michael Gove

FREE AND FAILED: Discovery School in Crawley, West Sussex

FREE AND FAILED: Al-Madinah Islamic School in Derby
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 11, 2014
Words:558
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