Government tightlipped over cost of Rotherham's phantom free school plan

ROTHERHAM MP Denis MacShane is still battling to find out how much the failed free school project in the town cost.

Dr MacShane has made repeated attempts under the Freedom of Information Act to ascertain how much of  taxpayers’ money was spent on the Rotherham Central Free School project—which turned out to have no premises, no staff or equipment and no curriculum and yet was planning to be open for the new academic year in September 2012.

All his requests have been rejected by the Department of Education.

But he says he will continue to raise his concerns in Parliament after it emerged that the free schools project has cost the taxpayer more than £337.2 million—despite only 24 of the schools being open.

Education Secretary has reportedly seconded 133 civil servants to work exclusively on the project.

“It was clear from the very outset that the Free Schools Project was an ideological fantasy promoted by Conservative party activists with little support from the teaching profession or from parents themselves,” said Dr MacShane.


“In a time of austerity I think it is abhorrent that money and resources destined for ordinary primary and secondary schools have been diverted in this manner, said Dr MacShane.

The biggest teaching union, the NUT, has called for a rethink of the policy which it calls a “dreadful waste of public resources and money.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Well over a milllion pupils are taught in academies and free schools. It is ridiculous to suggest that money spent on them is wasted.

“These schools are spearheading the Government’s reforms to drive up standards. Free schools are proving hugely popular with parents.”