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Kent education chiefs to tackle Michael Gove over academy costs

Teacher in a classroom. Stock picture

Kent County Council has spent around £1million on academy conversions

by political editor Paul Francis

Kent County Council is to tackle education secretary Michael Gove over the costs of arranging for schools to become academies, saying it is leaving the authority out of pocket.

Education chiefs are to write to the Department for Education in a fresh effort to persuade it to cover the expenses associated with dealing with academy conversions.

The move comes as MPs criticised over-spending by the DfE on its academy programme to the tune of £1billion.

Education secretary Michael GoveA report by the National Audit Office said the government spent £8.3bn on its academy programme between 2010-2012 - £1bn over budget.

The Conservative-run county council estimates it has spent about £1m on academy conversions, but - unlike the schools - has received no additional money to do so.

Schools preparing to convert can qualify for as much as £25,000 to help them prepare for becoming an academy.

A Conservative county councillor has launched a stinging attack on the government over the arrangements as the authority writes to Mr Gove (pictured left).

Cllr Roland Tolputt told a meeting of KCC's education cabinet scrutiny committee: "I believe the figure that Kent has chalked up is £1m. I am horrified that the county council cannot be repaid... it is most unfair.

"The schools are given money for legal costs - why can't they use that. It is quite wrong."

The county council's education director Patrick Leeson said the issue remained a "bone of contention".

He said: "The costs of an academy conversion is a cost to the county council. Our legal costs are significant to work through the process and it is quite complicated work. Schools are provided with money but we are not.

"I have made representations and had meetings with the DfE but we have not succeeded in getting any kind of recognition that we bear costs and they are costs to the taxpayer. It is a bone of contention."

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