The lobbying scandal has some worrying implications for state schools

The scandal of Peter Cruddas offering access to the Prime Minister in return for eye-watering sums of money has some very disturbing implications for the schools policy being implemented by the Coalition. As we are seeing, private firms, charities and other organisations are taking over the running of many of English schools or setting up their own “free schools”. This latest lobbying scandal shows that it’s those with the deepest pockets who have the ear of government. Does this mean that wealthy organisations, charities, religious groups and individuals are able to buy access to the top tier of government and, as a result, set up their own schools at the taxpayers’ expense?

It makes me wonder just what has been going on behind closed doors with regards to free schools and academies. I still find it very puzzling that certain edu-chains have been given the go-ahead to set up free schools or run academies when they quite clearly don’t seem fit to run schools. But one suspects that questionable outfits like Steiner schools, E-Act schools and Edison are just the tip of the iceberg. In the coming years, we are going to see well-funded fundamentalist organisations and nutty organisations like the Scientologists knocking at the governments’ door to set up schools. Indeed in February, the British Humanist Association pointed out that there are as many as a hundred religious or pseudo-scientific groups planning to set up free schools. Some of these organisations have a great deal of money. I wonder if any of it has found its way into the coffers of the Tory Party?



Published by: @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing ( which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network,, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.

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