Borough snubs Goldman's school cash

The reaction of Tower Hamlets to Goldman Sachs' offer of funding for a sixth-form academy in the area shows the level of passion roused by the subject of children's education. After all, for one of London's most famously deprived boroughs, the offer of a £2m sponsorship deal is hardly something to be sniffed at. But sniff it did, adopting a siege mentality along the lines of ‘we're doing perfectly well without your money, thank you very much'.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010
The government's plan to implement 400 business-led academies by 2010 hasn't exactly been an A* success so far, with only two of London's key financial institutions - UBS and KPMG - currently involved. The idea of big international companies stepping up to subsidise your kids' education is probably pretty hard for many to swallow, especially when they were educated in good old state-funded comprehensive and grammar schools: ‘They've already got our football teams, now they want our kids' minds too…'

The borough was certainly wise to look before it leapt - powerful international organisations like Goldman's aren't generally in the habit of throwing money around without wanting something back - but perhaps it was a bit rash to turn it down outright. After all, other schools that have taken the sponsorship have benefited, and what parent doesn't want things like decent security, technology and food for their kids. Having said that, councils hardly have a great track record negotiating with influential elements of the private sector, so Tower Hamlets  may have decided it was best to play it safe and tick along as it was.

Either way, it's not great news for the government, which has also caught flak for being inconsistent in how much companies must invest to secure sponsorship. (The official figure stands at £2m, but has dropped as low as £600,000 and even zero in certain cases). The government says such private sponsorship is key to raising educational standards. Of course, many will ask how we ever got into such a position in the first place. 

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