CAMPUS EDUCATIONAL TRUST RESPONSE TO THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION WITHDRAWING THEIR SUPPORT FOR ESTABLISHING THE CAMPUS UNDER THE FREE SCHOOLS PROGRAMME
The Campus Educational Trust is disappointed that the Department for Education (DfE) have withdrawn their support despite all the development work of the last few years and the unequivocal support of partners; the Trust disagrees fundamentally with the reasons that the DfE have given, and we will carry on striving to make it happen.
We believe it significant that this decision follows the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) refusing to provide any assurances around funding despite the Department for Education, Haringey Local Authority and NHS England all doing so. This follows the Ministry of Justice failing to live up to earlier commitments to consider changes in legislation and guidance that could have been helpful in supporting the Campus.
Andrew Morley, Chair of the Trust, said:
‘It is disappointing that government departments have not found a way together to develop an implementation approach, to include a collaborative funding package, for an innovative project that has widespread support and strong evidence base of need.
It is particularly surprising, and frankly concerning, that this decision comes when the Government’s own Serious Violence Strategy claims to ‘focus on early intervention and prevention which can help catch young people before they go down the wrong path, encouraging them to make positive choices’.
If we are collectively incapable of supporting innovation, we will continue to repeat the mistakes of the past – young people will continue to be let down, and local communities will continue to bear the social and financial costs of reoffending behaviour. The local needs analysis estimates a cost to the public purse of over £1.2m for the offending behaviour of one young person, compared to an estimated cost per place at the Campus of £75,000.’
The Trust is today publishing the correspondence related to this decision and relies on this to set out the background to this decision and the Trust’s response to it.
However, the Trust would highlight the following points:
- The original application for pre-opening was predicated on the board securing the expertise to detail these strategies with the appointment of professional staff.
- No such concerns were expressed when the Trust was on the brink of signing Heads of Terms for a site in Autumn 2015 and had, with Department for Education (DfE) support, appointed a Principal designate. This site was aborted when it was discovered that it would be impacted by Crossrail. Unfortunately, this had been missed in the initial searches.
- There is little in the way of national or international proven experience that can provide certainty about the model. To counter this, the Trust took a collaborative approach to design involving a range of providers (including those recommended by DfE), an expert group of educational and youth custody professionals and academics. It is difficult to know what other support could have been secured and the Trust notes that the Secure Schools Programme has sought advice from Campus staff to inform their programme.
- The Trust proposed arrangements to manage the risks associated with approving Heads of Terms in advance of developing the supporting detail suggesting arrangements for any funding being agreed in principle subject to the involvement of our funders in the appointment of our Principal Designate, a series of Stress Tests at key stages of development and a comprehensive evaluation. This included proposing an asset lock for any capital build with the option of it being a replacement for Haringey’s other education provision in the unlikely event the Campus was not delivered.
- The Campus, working with partners, have:
- highlighted and quantified a significant gap in policy and provision for the young people in the youth justice system who are not in settled education or training places
- engaged community capacity in Tottenham and Haringey ready to be part of the Campus delivery framework
- modelled the needs of those young people
- proposed an innovation in terms of education provision which attracted widespread local and national support; and
- proposed an evaluation strategy to make sure lessons are learned
Free schools were originally designed to promote innovation, but in this case, it is evident that the local commitment to the innovation has been blocked by an inability to secure cross-government partnership, as opposed to mere scrutiny, to bring the Campus to a successful opening.
The Trust is pleased that despite this decision it continues to enjoy strong local support. This being one of the key success measures identified at the start of the process.
This has enabled some ground-breaking work to be done on the needs of the ‘Campus Cohort’ and on how the operational model could work with the community, the Courts, the Police, Schools, Health Providers and with the proposed site in Tottenham.
The Trust is committed to continue to work to meet the needs of these young people and with the support of our partners will look to develop an alternative approach for doing so.
Acting Executive Director