Friday, 27 April 2012

Company offers to sponsor state school scandal!


The newspaper that employed Jon Hari clearly maintains its standards with this headline:

News Corp offered Gove £2m to build 'free school'

Terrible! Corruption! Set the dogs on him!

Except that this is a gross misrepresentation of the meeting and what was offered:

Rupert Murdoch's News International offered £2m to sponsor an academy in east London close to the company's headquarters at Wapping, it emerged yesterday at the Leveson Inquiry.

So it wasn't a "free school". It was an academy - set up under the legislation that Mr Murdoch's old buddy Tony Blair introduced where businesses were encouraged to 'sponsor' new and existing schools that switched to being academies. Under Blair's rules sponsors were expected to make a financial contribution of at least £2 million (this has now changed and there is no absolute financial requirement). 

So the money wasn't offered to Michael Gove - it was offered to the Department for Education and/or Newham Council. It wasn't for a "free school". And it wasn't done in any underhand or misleading way - just part of the process of recruiting partners to help improve education in England.

People may not like or agree with the policy but it has been around for a while under Labour and Coalition governments. And News International were doing nothing wrong in pursuing the idea of sponsoring an academy.

All-in-all a pretty dreadful piece of reporting!


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