Examination of witnesses (Questions 100
WEDNESDAY 27 OCTOBER 1999
and COUNCILLOR RUPERT
100. We have been interested in the past in
the role of governors and in the situation clearly many still
have a legal responsibility, so could I ask Councillor Povey to
describe the exact relationship, first of all between the County
Council, 3E's Enterprises Ltd and then the Kingshurst 3E'swhich
I understand is a charitable trustand the governing body
of the new King's College school and then specifically the relationship
between the Foundation governors who are appointed by the Kingshurst
3E's charitable trust and the 3E's Enterprises Ltd? Could you
unravel that for us?
(Cllr Povey) Yes, okay. The relationship between Surrey
County Council as the local education authority and 3E's Enterprises
Ltd is the contractual one. That is the contract that we have
let as a council. The relationship between the LEA and the governing
body of the new school is the same relationship as you would have
between our local education authority and any other aided school,
so we appoint one or two LEA governors and they are able to make
use of the LEA governor training facilities and all the other
things that the LEA does with respect to governing bodies. There
is no direct relationship between the LEA and the Trust set up.
The Trust was set up as part of the contract and I think the members
of the Trust are basically employees of 3E's Enterprises Ltd and
they appoint some of thewell, they appoint all of the Foundation
governors and my recollection is that some of the people they
have appointed are from the local community, they are not all
employees. They have not sought to control the governing body
by that route.
101. And how do those Foundation appointed governors
relate back then, both to the Trust and to the 3E's Enterprises
(Cllr Povey) The Foundation governors have a role
as governors of the school. They are not under instruction from
the Trust or the company.
102. Can you just tell us what proportion?
(Cllr Povey) That is defined by law and I cannot quite
remember the numbers off the top of my head, but I think the Foundation
governors would be in a majority on the governing body. I am sure
that is correct.
103. So there is a concern there, I think, perhaps
for other governors on that body, is there?
(Cllr Povey) But that is no different to any other
Foundation school or aided school.
104. So if it were a church school?
(Cllr Povey) Yes, it could still have a majority of
105. The involvement of a private sector company
in King's Manor has obviously been ground breaking news. I described
it as the genie now being out of the bottle and it will not be
able to be put back. You perhaps would want to comment on that,
but would you agree that what has happened at King's Manor is,
in fact, the privatisation of the school?
(Cllr Povey) Well I think that is a very emotive word
actually and I do not know that that is helpful. I think what
we are trying to do is find a route to make the school successful
and to do our best for children in North Guildford so the fact
that we have chosen to exercise our responsibilities in that particular
way is just that the Surrey County Council is quite an innovative
council. Whether you want to use that particular term, I do not
106. After ten years the contract is ended;
what happens then?
(Cllr Povey) I think members would want to take a
view. Ten years ahead seems a long way ahead and one does not
know what sort of a world we will be living in then and what kind
of legal framework, but I am quite sure members would want to
take a view as to what is best for that school at that point in
107. If you could crystal ball gaze, would you
expect that every school in Surrey would be privatised in ten
(Cllr Povey) I would not wish to crystal ball gaze
like that, I do not think. No. I think we are interested in raising
standards in any way that we can in Surrey and if that involves
the private sector, then fine.
108. You see, what perplexes me, and in fact
it was a question my good friend Mr St. Aubyn asked earlier, is
if this is good enough for a failing school in Surrey, why is
it not good enough for the others?
(Cllr Povey) It is not a question of it being good
enough. This is a way forward for a school that has not been very
successful in the past, has been re-launched in the past, has
got some good points about it and we all recognise those, but
it was a very particular and difficult situation with long-standing
problems and we felt that we really needed to go down this route
as a way of breaking from the past.
109. One of the effects of judging the success
or otherwise of King's Manor will be in fact a rise in its pupil
roll. Clearly, part of the contract is in fact to do that. Given
that you are not going to have a house building boom in Guildford,
where are those children going to come from and could I perhaps
suggest they will come from other schools and therefore what will
be the knock-on effect on the other schools?
(Cllr Povey) I think at the moment a lot of children
from the local community do go elsewhere and the school is seen
110. Out of Surrey?
(Cllr Povey) No, I would not think out of Surrey,
but to other schools out of the community in which that school
(Cllr Povey) We are in a position of rising pupil
numbers at secondary school level and will be for some years to
come, so there will be a take-up there. Some of the other schools
are heavily over-subscribed and there is a very large private
Mr Willis: Thank you very much.
Mr St. Aubyn
112. May I ask a supplementary there because
we are going to have evidence later on this morning from the National
Union of Teachers who, in their submission, say that the improvements
you are trying to achieve could have been achieved by the LEA.
They go on to mention the support that will be required by Surrey
County Council, which they put at £1.2 million, to cover
contractors' fees and the additional appointment of staff, as
well as performance payments and building improvements. Could
you comment on their general point that they feel the LEA could
have done all this and, secondly, the sum of £1.2 million,
how that would have compared with the cost of the LEA bidding?
(Cllr Povey) I think whether the LEA could have done
it, I do not think it could in this particular situation because
the local education authority cannot really promote one school
against the others in the area. It has to take a view across all
its schools and I think that is the particular difficulty in this
situation. What the company in this particular case brings is,
I think, marketing skills, certain technical skills, knowledge
of other examinations, for example the international baccalaureate.
It has a lot of experience within the company of turning round
failing schools, which is what in effect they did with the CTC
where they come from, and so it is bringing technical skills that
we do not actually have in Surrey even though we are seen as one
of the leading LEAs. As regards the money side of it, the capital
money tends to come from capital grants. The overall revenue expenditure
is expected, over a medium term, to benefit the Surrey taxpayer
because at the moment the school has a considerable subsidy as
a small school and over a period of, say, medium termsay
five to seven yearsif the company is successful in attracting
more children into the school, there will likely be a net benefit
to the taxpayer because the money saved will more than cover the
cost of the contract.
113. May I ask, and to broaden the discussion
to the nature of the LEA private company contract, may I just
pinpoint the phrase that it was not the LEAs responsibility to
prioritise for a particular school?
(Cllr Povey) No, that is not what I said. I think
114. That is why I want to clarify it, please?
(Cllr Povey) Well, I think it is not really right
for an LEA to promote one school against its others. The LEA in
Surrey has five secondary schools in Guildford and it would be
difficult for the LEA to adopt a position that is going round
saying to everybody: "Send your children to this particular
school and not the other four". I do not think that is a
115. By implication of what was said earlier,
you have made the choice to go to a contract to do just that?
(Cllr Povey) Yes, but I think that is the difference.
Chairman: I fail to see the difference, I am
afraid, but I think we need to take this on further. Mr St. Aubyn?
Mr St. Aubyn: On that very point though, would
you say that under an LEA run system, it is quite permissible
for a dynamic Head to promote an independent school and in the
sense, as opposed to having a dynamic Head who will move onto
another post, you have actually institutionalised the dynamic
Head, if you like by, getting
Chairman: At exactly £1.2 million.
Mr St. Aubyn: Yes.
116. Councillor Perry?
(Cllr Povey) May I just answer that question first?
Mr Willis: No, you have given the answer.
117. I think you have given the answer to that.
(Cllr Perry) It is just this point that there are
other ways of doing it.In Islington, for example, George Orwell
school has been closed. We have re-opened it as the Islington
Arts and Media School and on the pupil roll thing it is a success
even at the start because the previous school was under-subscribed;
the current school is over-subscribed. It does cost money and
of course you need a dynamic Head, which we have, and he was one
of two dynamic Heads we recruited last year, so now in all our
secondaries we have dynamic Heads and that is why eight out of
nine of our schools are over-subscribed.
118. You do not need the private sector if you
have a dynamic Head?
(Cllr Perry) I think you need a bit more than that.
Mr St. Aubyn
119. Councillor Perry,and I agree you
need more than thatbut could I just focus on this item,
because you have chosen to use the private sector. You were not
directed by the Secretary of State to do so in terms of tendering
your services. This is what we are told. I know from the Surrey
experience that there was a real attempt to involve the parents
in the school concerned and the teachers and the governors. To
what extent can you, at the LEA level, involve governor representatives,
parent representatives, in your choice of a contractor to take
responsibilityindirectly through youfor the quality
of the schools in their area?
(Cllr Perry) I think the decision actually on the
contractor will be made by the Secretary of State. Islington Council
will be making a recommendation to the Minister about who we would
like to be the contractor, but it will be the DfEE decision.