Free Schools ‘Not Free’
Education secretary Michael Gove confirmed today that his flagship free schools policy is based on the definition of ‘free’ which means ‘without responsibility or duty’, rather than ‘without cost’.
Free schools can therefore be run by anyone – whether or not they are qualified or able – who can chose to teach whatever in the hell they like. And they do, indeed, cost money. Lots of money.
Unfortunately, this is news to pretty much everyone in the Department for Education (DfE), including some of Gove’s own ministerial colleagues.
“Ah,” a DfE source explained. “This policy no longer seems as appealing as it did before.”
The revelation has caused a huge rift between Tory and Lib Dem ministers. The Conservatives had apparently been aware that free schools cost money for several months, but decided to keep quiet.
“So let me get this straight,” a senior Lib Dem told us, here at The Taxman. “Free schools do not have to employ proper teachers and do not have to teach the same things that every other state school teaches?
“These schools can open wherever they like, regardless of where there is demand for places? Regardless of whether they have a permanent building or not?
“And they cost how much?
“Excuse me for a moment while I just try to find something to kill myself with.”
Gove was forced to reveal the definition of the word ‘free’ upon which his policy was based after it emerged that several free schools had been using the Daily Mail as a textbook, while others had taken their pupils on a pheasant-shooting trip.
One free school was even being run from the back of a white Transit van.
A Treasury spokesman said: “Don’t panic, we’ve come up with a plan to pay for these things.
“Either we go with the Tories, and sell off the remainder of the country’s school playing fields to fracking companies, or we go with the Lib Dems, who are hoping to use the free schools debacle as an excuse for trebling tuition fees.”