January 9, 2017 at 02:51PM

In an age of austerity it will strike many as staggering largesse. A soon-to-close university technical college sponsored by a Premier League football club and educating only a few classes of students, is costing the taxpayer £500,000 a year in premises overheads alone, Education Guardian can reveal.

Latest accounts for Tottenham Hotspur-sponsored Tottenham UTC, in north London, show £567,612 was allocated for its “rent and rates” for 2014-15. The rent seems to go to a property company that is part of the group of firms running Spurs. The UTC rents space from TH Property Limited in a building that also houses Spurs’ offices.

Department for Education data shows the taxpayer has already shelled out £12.8m on constructing and fitting out Tottenham UTC. The school, which opened in 2014, will close this summer having failed to attract enough students. It had only 134 last academic year, with latest accounts putting its total annual costs at £2m, or £15,000 a student. Numbers for this academic year are thought to be as low as 40. The UTC will be replaced on the same site in September by the London Academy of Excellence Tottenham, a sixth-form college.

Notes to the DfE’s 2014‑15 accounts [pdf] show the government committing to pay rent on the UTC’s site for the next 35 years, at a cost of £16.5m. In 2015, we reported how the taxpayer is spending about £500,000 a year on rent for another education building with links to Tottenham Hotspur: the Brook House primary free school, also in Tottenham. Spurs sold the building for £11m that year to an investment firm, which the DfE has guaranteed will be paid £12.5m over 25 years.

Asked about the UTC’s finances, a Spurs spokesman said the “rent and rates” 2014-15 figure had not actually been spent in cash, but represented an accounting allocation of a proportion of the costs related to the 35-year lease. He did not respond to a request to explain how much cash had been received.

He said the rent was “subject to normal open market scrutiny/process by the public sector”, that most UTCs had struggled to recruit students and that those behind the UTC had worked “tirelessly” to set up the sixth form to “best validate the [previous] investment in resources” on its site.

Neither the UTC itself nor the DfE responded to requests for comment.

Indiscreet CEO rides academy gravy train

News reaches us of indiscreet telephone comments by an academy chain chief executive on a train journey recently.

A fellow passenger contacted us to say: “I just came off a … train … where I had the misfortune to sit opposite a man who I found out afterwards was [the CEO, whom we are not naming]. He spent a good (or bad?) hour talking in an incredibly loud voice about a variety of people … details of salaries … schools were named, school closures, redundancies, legal actions, politicians and a lengthy discussion about how to destroy someone’s career, were all discussed.

“His phone was on so loud that I could hear both sides of the conversation. I was genuinely appalled that someone could have such an indiscreet conversation in a public place.”

The call was made from a first-class carriage, reportedly with a tumbler of wine in hand, completing what was not a good look, the fellow traveller says.

from Education | The Guardian http://ift.tt/2i8hex6