January 14th, 2014

SKETCH: Bottom-up Free School Policy in Front of PAC

Time and again Mr Wormall (sic) told the Public Accounts committee: Free Schools is a bottom up policy.

I’m old school but that seemed a little – what’s the word they use – regressive. It must explain why Free School discipline is better than in the maintained sector. Minutely-specified uniforms, strict grammar, masters of Latin prowling the aisles between the desks with their long ferrules, bottoms up on their barked command.

Unless it’s a bottom-up policy which means that discipline is rather worse around Free Schools. The local initiatives, the inspirational factors, odd conditions, the innovations – they all add to a creative ferment in which centrally-dictated targets and systems have no large place. Or so the civil servants maintained. There are no hard and fast systems. There is no algorithm, one said. That’s what happens in a bottom-up situation.

Top down bad, bottom up good. Though in my experience, the one – enough.

What a gruelling session. And so long! There were useful facts, good arguments, but it was all over the place and the Guardian revelations about payments were hardly discussed except in an appendix at the end.

Here’s one piece of evidence.

There was an application for a school that started in Slough and finished up in Stoke Poges. Big project for 850 pupils but only eight turned up for school. The local opposition: enormous. It was a Sikh faith school.

In summary it’s startling, but more startling was how the information came out in dribs and drabs. The civil servants responsible were saying, “Can I put that in context” and “Can I write to you about that?” and “We will reflect on your views”, and “I don’t have the answer to that”.

The committee’s information came out piecemeal. Uncoordinated. Bits from newspapers, reports, local anecdote, text messages from their researchers, no doubt.

The financial civil servant was asked of the scandal-hit King’s Science school that was given £10m for its premises. “Who owns the building?”

Pause. Mr Lauener, Mr Finance answered: “The Trust?” Another pause. “Gosh, I wonder if I ought to check that.”

That’s an idea. Do check that.

Ian Swales said the school buildings had been bought with money provided by this civil servant and then passed into the ownership of a company owned by the chair of the Governors. And after the characteristic fumbling and faffing, Mrs Hodge observed that “the school Trust will be paying rent to that company!”

Very shocking but in the Guardian. We weren’t any further ahead.

Free Schools create a lot of bottom-up emotion. We could do with a fact book about them – there were 191 cases of fraud from maintained schools, for instance. Property in in Bradford can be had for £2.50 a square foot rather than £15. How many Free Schools are in special measures compared with LEA schools. If you know of one succinct source for this please send a link.

The statistics can be argued either way by clever statisticians but Stewart Jackson put it best by putting it in perspective.

“People are looking at it down the wrong end of the telescope. There are thousands of LEA schools guilty of inappropriate conduct, corruption and very poor results.” These scandals, he said of the three or four schools in trouble, “didn’t start with Free Schools.”

This committee needs more money, more personnel, more research, more briefing power, more clerking, more structure. They work outrageously hard, that is clearly a fact. The cost of this sort of politics needs to go up.


  1. 1
    Podiceps says:

    Bottoms up! [hic]


    • 16
      dai itchilly says:

      a bottom up policy?

      that’s how one develops a wormalls problem


    • 19

      His basso profundo with timbre so rare
      He rendered quite often, with power to spare.
      But his great work of art,
      His fortissimo fart,
      He saved for the Marche Militaire.


      • 35
        Joseph Pujol says:

        ‘Allo ‘Allo?


        • 82
          burbaray says:

          burberry refuses to go away, all knowledge comes from the mother. but mother needs screaming when she refuses to weok.
          no work, no mother,
          alternatively scream at her to get her to work.
          endless laughter sia sizzler .


      • 47
        Podiceps says:

        SC: trying to answer your question of 9.15 on last thread. However, 37 French words for the, um, organ of generation have not gone down well with the modbot. Anyway, the specific answer is yes.


        • 108


          If there were to be one person amongst Guido’s vast readership who could have found la mot juste without a puffin’, I would have put money on it being you.

          However, shortly before that, I had at 7:00 pm and also at 7:02 pm, been struggling for another suitable word which would have described the lost garments that would otherwise protect this treasured organ and had to settle instead for one that meant sense. I was thinking of a comic mispronunciation, à la Inspector Clouseau, of pants but there was not the space to develop it without complete reconstruction.

          Perhaps your truly Flaubertian forensic skills in the fields of linguistics and particularly morphology might have something to offer in this respect too?

          I shall await the morning’s fallout with some interest and hope.


          • Podiceps says:

            This is what I can find with a quick search.
            Standard French terms for underpants: caleçon (for men), culotte (for women) slip (for both), all singular.
            French argot: calcif, calecif, calbar, calbut, calfouette, all singular.
            Quebec argot: ginche, gonche, gitche, gotchée, singular; bobettes, plural.
            None of them much use for a rhyme. I’d have brazened it out and said ‘pants’, in italics as a foreign word.


          • We must be crazy!

            One can get stuck on something like this as a challenge. Then find that, by moving on, something else develops.

            But other times we just dig our heels in and insist that we will find it if it kills us.

            Sometimes I find what I am seeking years later and wonder what I was trying to do with it…


          • Shekel counter says:

            You were supplied with one ending from a viewer. Return to see. Do not pass go; do not collect 200 ecobulbs.


    • 158
      Roget says:

      I do wish someone would help Simon with his grammar and general readability problem.


  2. 2
    retardEd Miliband says:



  3. 4
    Tin foil top hat says:

    Anything to get the education system out of the grasp of the left wing machine.


  4. 5
    Ms Beckett aged 17 3/4 says:

    Benefits st about to start and I almost cried. I want all TV remotes dead


    • 22
      Mr Potato Head says:

      ‘Benefits Street’ or ‘The grass is always greener in another country’.


      • 27
        Jack Ketch says:

        Have to make a choice between sugar or toilet paper. Fortunately I have a copy of the Guardian–makes the coffee taste odd though.


        • 72
          Anonymous says:

          Love how Romanians shown as hard workers ” we don’t want benefits, we just want to work”…

          Yes but that was in Sept 13 when you couldn’t get

          It’s Jan 2014 and now they do qualify for benefits and they will soon be living in council houses and receive full benefits so will be able to afford sky tv, flat screen tv, iPhone , ps3, fags and booze, just like the rest of the indigenous benefits street residents.

          The programme makers didn’t think to correct that propaganda lie did they.


      • 87
        crusshe says:

        who said all c*nts wore green.


    • 167
      Alessandro, Lower Volta says:

      I can arrange that, no charge.


  5. 7
    Grumpy Old Man says:

    It’s quite simple Parents who care about education send their children to Free schools. There will be hiccups and failures due to the human condition, but free schools are free in that the sclerotic grip of education x 3 and the teaching gestapo have little sway in them. Free schools are the future.


  6. 8
    Millibenefits st says:

    Benefits st announced as a programme that the contents of which some viewers may find offensive.

    Like Owen jones, Beckett bimbo and the entire left wing who want it hidden. Its their voting base innit


    • 10
      Grumpy Old Man says:

      And there’s a Labour luvvie producing it. Priceless.


      • 18
        FFS says:

        Hmm, so I’m guessing that the last episode in the series will be all about how more taxpayer money is needed to solve problems like Benefits Street and then the viewers will realise they’ve been sucked in.


    • 11
      Labour's supporters are worthless retarded subhuman filth says:

      “the contents of which some viewers may find offensive”

      By ‘contents’, I think they mean the worthless retarded subhuman filth who feature on it.


      • 36
        albacore says:

        Very similar, then, to Downing Street
        Though the villainy there is less discreet
        They try so hard to leave you in no doubt
        About how they’re selling the country out


  7. 12
    auntie DUGGAN says:

    White D the epitome of English motherhood!


  8. 14
    Ian Smith says:

    Universal Credit will be delivered on time and on budget.


    • 15
      BOOOORING !!! says:

      BOOOORING !!!


    • 17
      Mr Potato Head says:

      Immigrants who pay their taxes in their own country ansds edn money home benefit the UK.

      The UK credit crisis and 7.5%% recession had nothing to do with Gordon Brown or Labour.

      “I would like to pay tribute to the contribution you and your company make to the prosperity of Britain,” Mr Brown told Lehman bankers in London’s Canary Wharf . “During its 150 year history, Lehman Brothers has always been an innovator, financing new ideas and inventions before many others even began to realize their potential.”


    • 79
      Bi says:

      The price of glue is up 2p since February 1999.

      Vote labour to end the cost of sticking crisis


    • 90
      alipped bannana says:

      ample coverage available.


  9. 21
    Martin Luther (and am I fucking pissed off) says:

    Pope Francis baptises baby of unmarried couple in Sistine Chapel in Vatican.

    Ninety-Five Fucking Theses and we end up with this, FFS?


    • 28
      bildaburger says:

      burger is king with all the sizzle. is the promise of anticipated delivery authentic. after mecca comes burger,hing. beatles sing.
      FFs. still no proper buger in sit, wipe those tears. if frozen then tim for a fryup.


  10. 23
    Fuck the EU says:

    So how many more European sacks of shit are going to try telling the UK what to do before UKIP get in ?

    One of the reasons why union with those bastards is not going to happen.


    • 25
      patriot says:

      They are simply demonstrating that they don’t understand the people of these islands and are unqualified to rule us.


  11. 26
    trying to reset my rose coloured glasses to Liebour mode. says:

    Watched that street programme on tv, Liebour put up a mirror and the mirror shows how they have cracked and splintered our society, no wonder they didn’t want it shown, if you vote Liebour you get the same cracked and splintered mirror, this country needs more than God’s help.


  12. 30
    RED ED - SON OF BROWN says:



    • 34
      Band of Liars says:

      Such an alliance will destroy what little is left of the credibility of both parties


    • 40
      The Great British Public says:



    • 55
      Casual Observer 5 says:

      Somewhere in this world there is a greasy pole.

      At the bottom of that pole is a pit.

      In that pit are some hungry Tigers, who only have access to Tobasco toilet paper.

      That pole is for Al Campbell to hold on to.


      • 75
        south of the M4 says:

        If you are in a pit with a hungry tiger and Alistair Campbell – and you have a gun with two bullets – what do you do? Shoot Campbell, twice to make sure.


    • 60
      the wizz says:

      Funny, I thought Wormtongue was a fictional character in ‘The Lord of The Rings’?


    • 68
      Taxpayer says:

      Quite astonishing that anyone even asks Campbell to write an article

      A congenital liar with blood on his hands and a wrecked country to his credit withe Blair etc

      But I suppose the criminal Murdoch still likes him

      Birds of a feather and all that



    • 109
      NE Frontiersman says:

      30: So he’s admitting this early that they won’t win outright, even against a government that’s generally hated?
      Presumably he had the Lib Dems’ consent to say this?


  13. 32

    It is: Chris Wormald, Permanent Secretary, Department for Education
    Location: Room 15, Palace of Westminster

    I hope you have not been drinking, Simon. I have not. Deferably. Hic.


  14. 38
    RED LEN says:


  15. 41
    No Death Threats. Just a Boycott. That'll Teach them. says:


    • 43
      The Great British Public says:

      Fuck off Jas you whinging lefty mong


    • 45
      David Cameron's favourite pair of underpants says:

      Thanks Jas. Cheque is in the post.


    • 46
      Alan Retentive. says:

      It’s a cognitive dissonance thing. Happens to us all now and again.


    • 73
      Dirty ole Bugger says:

      Ever tried bukkake, Jizz?


    • 117
      Ma­qbo­ul says:

      Boycotted?! She and the other effete lefty wannabes have given more publicity to this programme than the C4 producers could ever have dreamed of.

      Your cheque’s in the post, Jaz.


    • 155
      Airey Belvoir says:

      ‘Fat Dee’ is having a good documentary, acting out the ‘mother of the street’ thing and being shown as warm and caring. No mention of her record, a convicted criminal who stole £17,000 of council money. Her child benefit is clearly going on fags, as well.


      • 165
        CYNICAL OLD GIT says:

        The danger in giving these cretins so much publicity is that they may soon become in the old style entertainment vernacular ” Box Office ” in the same manner as the likes of that Jane Goody,or much worse that evil cretin Philpot who first rose to infamy on the Jeremy Kyle Show .


  16. 51
    Casual Observer 5 says:

    Good work on the sketch. This brightened my day.

    Not the content – that is awful stuff to report on, but the quality of writing is a welcome relief and a joy to digest.



  17. 56
    We're truly fucked as a country says:

    You bunch of fuckwits on here.

    You berate the likes of Owen Jones

    He hasn’t a fuckin clue.

    The immigrant problem is real and now and its affecting every working class person today.

    It’s out of control


  18. 62
    The British media are cunts says:

    Fuck me, the BBC are STILL banging on about how it’s evil to cut the public sector. They really don’t get it do they? The two Ed’s gave up on that line of attack ages ago.

    Had the Tories seriously cut public spending and not just slowed slightly the rate of growth we’d have had a booming economy a long time ago.


  19. 70
    Historian says:

    War criminal Blair praising Mass Murderer Sharon

    Rather appropriate


  20. 77
    Ed Moribund says:

    Help ed balls is trying to topple me! And he has McCluskey on his side after I made a mess of Falkirk. Help!


  21. 96
    altruism in industry says:

    what I puzzle over is we can find umpteen billions to give to the bankers but we have to give the fracking rights to Johnny Foreigner and not a UK company.


  22. 100
    Attack the Kipper! says:


    • 136
      Casual Observer 5 says:

      The lefties were speaking of dropping rudeness and rac!sm expressed over the R’omanian and B’ulgarian immigration fiasco.

      But didn’t push the point (edited out ?)

      Perhaps the fact that these policies are not British and the fact that the lefties have been working overtime to destroy British values is why such hostility is now openly expressed towards the east Euro filth that is polluting these shores.

      No wonder the Baby Banging Corp decided to edit that out ;-)

      vote UKIP


  23. 101
    Tacitus says:

    Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.


  24. 121
    Milliband the liar and the coward says:

    Ed backs off showdown with unions: Miliband accused of watering down attempts to weaken stranglehold on party
    Labour leader billed March meeting with union barons as ‘historic’
    Thought ‘weakened’ spring showdown will only last two hours
    Plans to make members ‘opt in’ if they want to hand over part of subscription will take five years to implement, party has admitted
    Labour’s lead in the polls has plunged according to a new ICM poll

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2538910/Ed-backs-showdown-unions-Miliband-accused-watering-attempts-weaken-stranglehold-party.html#ixzz2qLiLFso4
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


  25. 124
    broerick crawfordd says:


    news last night that dutch coalition are proposing legislation that all prisoners be charged 16 euros per night spent in detention for a max of the first two years of sentence.

    under age prisoners would have the c harge billed to their closest surviving family relative .

    law could be operative by 2015 …… but prisoners organisations already up in arms claiming it is against european legislation and …… ewmannnn rights .


    • 161
      Shekel counter says:

      Good idea. Confiscation of ill gotten gains etc. Don’t do the crime – don’t do the time.


    • 166
      CYNICAL OLD GIT says:

      The Dutch Government are doing the same as our own ,talking tough in the full knowledge that the European court will never allow it.


  26. 125
    Mr Potato Head says:

    Middle class families are facing a “crisis of confidence” over falling living standards, Labour leader Ed Miliband says in a newspaper article.

    Aha! First to spot the latest Ed Miliband crisis.


  27. 129
    Grant Shapps says:

    “The only way to ensure a better and more financially secure future for hard working people and for their children is to vote Labour in 2015 – reducing the deficit, creating jobs, cutting taxes, giving young people the skills they need to get on and fixing the welfare system so that it pays to work



    • 134
      Mr Potato Head says:

      And my Aunt Fanny is the Queen of Eqypt.


    • 145
      Education, Edyerkayshun, Eddyookaashun says:

      SKIRKERS ???


      • 153
        Jack Ketch says:

        1/. (n)SKIRKERS–The Inhabitants of Skirkland; historically, notable for their enormous Skirks.

        2/. (n) Skirker–One who Skirks. (A Skirk (v)–a silent or very quiet incidence of flatulence released in a lift, aircraft or railway carriage.)

        3/.(n) Skirking–The act of adopting a smug, innocence appearance after releasing an anonymous skirk in a public place.


  28. 130
    Michael Gove says:

    Children will be taught that grammar and spelling is subjective and depends on how they feel that day.


  29. 138
    Igas Fracking corp Whitney Oxfordshire says:

    What is wrong with you people ?
    don’t you want to make rich people richer ?


  30. 140
    Ian Smith says:

    Universal Credit will be delivered on time and on budget


  31. 141
    Wait - what! says:

    Dennis Skinner defends his portrait painting as the painter would have been out of work otherwise….



    • 148
      In defence of the left says:

      He could hardly argue that the portrait stopped public money from being sent abroad or frittered on civil service bonus’ etc.

      Is Rolf Harris going to be doing Cameron’s portrait ?


  32. 142
    Mrs Machinery says:

    6725.78 FTSE
    -31.37 -0.46%

    Welcome to “Black Tuesday”


  33. 143
    RED LEN says:


  34. 146
    Billy B*wden says:

    A signalling problem at London Waterloo is now causing delays of up to 30 minutes.


  35. 147
    Prime Minister David Cameron says:

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    As indeed are all of inane comments P.M.


  36. 152
    non taxable pikey says:

    The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on October 31 announced that all of Syria’s 1290 tons of declared chemical weapons had been placed under tamper proof seal.

    Meanwhile Al Jazeera reports today that three people were killed by “shelling with poison gas” overnight in Daraya, a town southeast of the embattled Syrian capital with 12 more injured.

    I know, Syria is not our problem.


    • 153
      Dirty ole Bugger says:

      Al Jazeera – owned by the Qatari government that just happens to be funding the so-called rebels in Syria.


      • 156
        John Bellingham says:

        Al Jazeera seems to have far more balanced coverage of news from the Middle East and Africa than the Bumboys Broadcasting Corp. Significantly, the main source of accusations of Qatari government interference in Al Jazeera editorial content is—–The Guardian Newspaper! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Jazeera#Editorial_independence)


        • 164
          Earwig O'Again says:

          Maybe, but for one of the world’s most blatantly capitalist countries, their tv coverage has an increasing socialist stance. Perhaps they want to give all their cash away to the Pally refugee ‘victims’.


  37. 168

    You are in serious trouble Guido…. @SJacksonMP of #mpsexpenses infamy is retweeting the link to this post


    • 169


      Stewart Jackson MP @SJacksonMP
      Irreverent look at the #PAC hearing on Free Schools yesterday

      SKETCH: Bottom-up Free School Policy in Front of PAC

      Time and again Mr Wormall (sic) told the Public Accounts committee: Free Schools is a bottom up policy. I’m old school but that seemed a little – what’s the word they use – regressive. It must expl…

      Guido Fawkes @GuidoFawkes


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