Another nugget that came out of the pupil premium debate was that some of the money was indeed to come out of other departments making 'savings', notable the welfare budget:
"Quite a bit of it comes from welfare spending... we've ensured that there is money that comes from welfare which is being spent on pupil premium and, without the welfare cuts, we wouldn't be in the position to have a real terms increase in school spending."
In other words, money is being taken from poor people and given to schools with poor pupils, presumably on the grounds that the poor specifically can't be trusted to spend the government's money. This is not a view that prevails when, say, private companies are being given money to 'place' people in work, for instance, nor when councils outsource services wholesale, handing money to private contractors. There's also the case when we're told that we can't raise taxes on the rich to pay, for example, for education because the rich know best how to spend their money.
Another place where this Gove-Knows-Best principle seemingly doesn't extend is to the kind of parents who want a private education but don't want to pay for it - with the credit crunch a good deal of the pressure on state schools has come from parents unwilling or unable to pay school fees seeking a berth for their offspring on the State's tab. The TES reports:
Pupil numbers in nearly half of private schools have fallen, the organisation which represents them has said. Forty-four per cent of the 690 schools in a survey for the Independent Schools Council had reported drops, with 132 schools seeing numbers drop by more than 3 per cent.
Of course, there's now a third option between private and state - persuading Michael Gove to give you a sack of money to open your own school with minimal regulation or supervision, and that means it's time to check in again on Toby Young and the pushy middle class parents of Acton to see if they've got a site yet. Captain SpudULike himself speaks (it's nice to know I'm on his radar, too, I have been making a special effort):
We're still looking at a range of potential sites in a number of boroughs and haven't yet abandoned all hope of securing the old King Fahad Academy for Girls site on Little Ealing Lane. Wherever we end up, however, W3 residents will still be able to apply to the school since we intend to admit a significant percentage of the children via a lottery, with any parent able to apply, regardless of how close they live to the school.
So 'no, we haven't got a site yet', then. There was a rumour they would be using Palingswick House, a large council-owned property (and apparently a former school) in Hammersmith currently being (inevitably) flogged off by the council, but that doesn't appear to be the case yet, but help may come courtesty of another data point on the Free School Dunning-Kruger diagram, namely the proposed decision to relax planning rules to allow virtually any building to be turned into a school. From the Twitter stream of Douglas Murphy (aka @entschwindet):
"Gov suggests following uses are exempt from planning should you wish to change them into a school: A1 A2 B1 B8 C1 C2 C2A D2."
added to which the following will go down nicely in West London - note that both King Fahad and Palingswick are next to existing schools which will already have an impact on traffic at exactly the same times of day:
Planning consultation doc regarding free schools considers creating a travel plan unnecessary bureaucracy...
I think we need to dig that out to find out effectively how much hidden subsidy Toby and co. are getting for their idiocy Gove is on record as wittering on about offices being converted to schools, which had nearly everyone pointing out that this is completely incompatible with the commitment to greater emphasis on sport in schools.