Scrap partnerships for schools

We learn today that the £30 m a year Partnerships for schools quango was responsible for providing Mr Gove with a list of the projects that were going ahead and the projects which could be cancelled under Building Schools for the Future. This body is led by Mr Byles, on a salary of £216,000 a year.

If this body is unable to provide a simple accurate list of the new school buildings it presides over, what is the point of it? Can we please save the £30 million a year? The old system of schools working out their capital needs and then submitting proposals for government money to their paymasters was a cheaper and better one. What need have we of all the consultants, memo writers and quango kings that have muscled in on the act?

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20 Comments

  1. Irene
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Agreed.

    I hate the phrase "lessons to be learned" but I think Michael Gove has learned quite a few over the last few days – I'm sure other ministers will be triple checking everything involving a quango!

    He has been well a truly stitched up.IMO

    One thing that puzzles me – it seems that some schools apparently no longer do simple maintenance judging by the cameras of the beeb and others whilst visiting some of the schools involved – showing leaky roofs peeling paint etc.

  2. Mark Wadsworth
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Excellent, agreed. Vouchers for schools would be even better though. That requires no bureaucracy whatsoever, as it's basically like a tax-rebate for people with children.

  3. nonny mouse
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    PfS made some sense when school building was funded using PFI. Presumably we will not be going back to use PFI in the near term.

    If PfS is scrapped who manages school building? The school, local government or centeral government? Who checks the final buildings to verify that they meet all building codes? Are there benefits from scale in building using common designs?

    If he quango is scrapped presumably some of the functionality goes back into the schools department. What are the benefits of Quangos over groups within government departments anyway? Presumably politicians like them because they are not as responsible when things go wrong. They are also free from politicical and whitehall meddlng .

  4. Martyn
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    You ask "What need have we of all the consultants, memo writers and quango kings that have muscled in on the act?"
    My answer would be "No need – they are but one of a number of costly and unecessary layers of jobsworths who add nothing of any value to business or the economy. Even if it cost us £15m to get rid of them it would still be worthwhile…

  5. Michael
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    John, I think that what you are trying to tell us is that Mr Gove's mistake is to have not known that Mr Byles is paid £216,00 p.a. to not know the key facts needed to run his quango.

  6. quangocrat
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    erm… even if schools submitted their capital plans – someone would still need to make the decision on what goes ahead and gets awarded the capital spend. Its called the Green Book, and has been in use for 20 odd years to appraise government spending projects.

    There is never enough money to do anything, even less now.

    The minister was responsible for the management of the cuts, and did this poorly, not instituting a review of current and proposed capital projects, nor establishing a criteria for selecting which projects continue, which get axed.

    Only himself to blame. Can't blame a quango this time I am afraid. Even if you try, I'll bet that quango's board and management are by ministerial appointment.

  7. Michael
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    John, I think that what you are trying to tell us is that Mr Gove should have known that Mr Byles is paid £216,000 p.a. to not have at his disposal the key facts necessary to run his quango.

  8. George
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I agree we need to dispence with quangos that provide no value. The question though is who decides and can we really reduce the duties of the quangos down to simply being a channel for Government money. I find it hard to believe that is all their role entails.

  9. Steve Tierney
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    We have no need of them whatsoever. Scrap the lot.

  10. Alan Jutson
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Understand from the press this morning that Mr Byles had a £40,000 bonus cancelled by Mr Gove, BEFORE the requested list was compiled and given to him.

    Seems like Mr Gove had some foresight of Mr Byles Departments abilities, either that or Mr Byles, or his Organisation is playing a dangerous game of Politics.

    Your Post of a few days ago that Ministers should beware of the accuracy of information provided to them seems valid.

    Yes of course this Quango should go, as should many others.

  11. Demetrius
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    In the 70's and 80's I was involved in local govenment building projects, notably schools and also some NHS ones, some of fair size. I cannot believe or understand the size and complexity of the financial mess that it now takes for routine building projects. By any standards it is insane and can and should be taken back radically to simple robust arrangements. OK this means recording it as public debt again but this is what it is and what it has to be seen as. The costs of this insanity are huge and it is a pity the new government cannot scrap the whole lot soonest.

  12. Michael L
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    If anything should be scrapped its the 'free schools'. This is taxpayers money – being used to provide a service for people who should (given the economic climate) be paying for it themselves.
    It is transparent, it does look like aspirant home counties mummies want the taxpayer to bail them out of the cost of private education.
    Why is the Tory party in favour of this ridiculous subsidy?

  13. Mark
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I read their business plan which consists of a depressing array of quangocrat jargon that reminded me of the Martin Lukes satires penned by Lucy Kellaway. Going forward, they need a new headset. I think a winding up order might be highly appropriate – they've done enough winding up already. Surely the most creovative approach.

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Scrap the quango by all means and while your at it clear out people such as the foolish chairwoman of Ofsted, Zenna Atkins, who recommends, amongst a great deal of other nonsense, that "every school should have a useless teacher" .(This morning she said she said every school will have one – not that she wanted them to have one -ed) Fortunately she reportedly leaves Ofsted at the end of next month. She is to become chief executive of Gems, a private education company where she is to launch state-funded "free schools". Any proposals from her should be subjected to the most thorough investigation. There must be hundreds of highly paid individuals appointed under Labour such as this who will have to be removed if we are to bring back any semblance of commonsense and good governance to this country.

  15. APL
    Posted July 11, 2010 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    JR: ".. Partnerships for schools quango .."

    The goal of all these quangos is partnership. The partnership is between the recipients of the government largess, and the government who can offload the responsibility of whatever this or that 'partnership ' is involved in.

  16. adam
    Posted July 12, 2010 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    do you politicians actually do anything or do these quangos provide you with your policy: what will and wont be cut

  17. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 12, 2010 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    The proper use of consultants is to recruit on a short term basis people who have more expertise in a particular matter than your permanent staff. The consultant presents a report with recommendations, wit no guarantee of further work.

    If the public sector chooses to use consultants on a long term basis to do routine work at high cost, that is the fault of the public sector, not the consultants.

  18. Mike Stallard
    Posted July 12, 2010 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Here in Wisbech, tens of millions are being spent on upgrading the buildings of a failing school. We have been told that there is no more money available for a small free school. Now this.
    Do you know what? A pupil premium (you aren't allowed to say "voucher") of just £5,000 would do the trick: Just think – 7 x £5,000 p.a. = £35,000: a ratio of one teacher for just seven children! Think how much you could rent for just £15,000 a year. See? We are thinking, not in millions, but mere thousands.
    And now this wastage.

    • Ian Jones
      Posted July 12, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

      35K wont pay for a teacher. What about pension and NI as well as all the HR costs? 15K wont rent you a shed in London.

  19. christina sarginson
    Posted July 12, 2010 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I agree we should get rid of any agency who does not provide value for money, however there needs to be in place a system which over sees and can make decisions about eduation, there has to be an anwser out there somewhere.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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