Saturday, 21 March 2015

Private-school sect ‘took £½m state cash in deal with colleges’

From today's Times 

Billy Kenber and Alexi Mostrous
Barnet and Southgate College said it had ended the 'partnership arrangement' with the sectGoogle Street View

Schools run by a controversial Christian sect are under investigation after enrolling pupils at state-funded colleges for thousands of pounds. 

The Department for Education (DfE) is examining whether Barnet and Southgate College and the Focus Learning Trust, which is run by the Exclusive Brethren, breached strict rules about funding for 16 to 19-year-olds. 

The Brethren claim to receive no state help towards the £30 million-a-year cost of their 34 private schools. However, accounts from 2013 reveal its schools received at least £500,000 from further education colleges run by local authorities. The money came from an Education Funding Agency scheme aimed at allowing pupils to gain access to facilities or courses that their own schools cannot provide. 

In one deal, Barnet and Southgate College, a further education college which received such funding, agreed with several Brethren schools to pass on this money in return for them enrolling their own high-performing pupils to study subjects including English and maths. 

Leaked documents suggest that the pupils continued to be taught the same lessons by Brethren-employed teachers. Barnet College appeared to have no involvement in teaching the pupils beyond conducting “lesson observations”. 

The documents also suggest that the Brethren enrolled only high-performing pupils at Barnet. “The college needs to know that they will have a good success rate,” one Brethren school document noted. “They support students on the specific courses that they expect them to achieve well in only.” 

Barnet and Southgate College said it had since ended the “partnership arrangement” but offered no further comment. 

A DfE spokeswoman said: “We are looking into the arrangements between Barnet College and Focus Schools Trust to ensure they meet our strict sub-contracting standards. 

A Brethren spokesman said that the“historic arrangement with Barnet College was legitimate and approved” but that they were unable to comment further due to “contractually binding confidentiality”. He said the sect was not aware of the DfE investigation but would co-operate fully. 

The Brethren face a separate investigation by the taxman into multimillion pound gift aid claims that help to fund their schools. This week, The Timesrevealed that more than 200 MPs had backed the sect, which some ex-members have denounced as a “cult”, in its successful bid to overturn a Charity Commission decision that could have cost millions of pounds in tax breaks. 

Since overturning the regulator’s initial decision to refuse charitable status the Brethren have made at least 16 applications for free school status.


  1. Christie said publicly that the Brethren welcome scrutiny.

    Well here it is and they don't like it at all.

    Christie was bluffing.

  2. Didn't Richard Stay also query funding from Dunstable College (???) to the local Peebs school?

  3. Chuckles of mirth erupting from over here....
    A storm in a tea cup is the most one can deduce from this report.
    I think the PBCC have really great schools and should be left well alone.
    These people have the power to change governments and move mountains etc etc
    Watch this space ;-D

    No more to be said.

  4. Name any one mountain the PBCC have moved, please.

    Like the Kings Lynn 'Church' with 'windows' that no one can see out of or into, nothing PBCC is quite what it appears to be from the outside. Rotten to the core, deceitful to the end, hypocrites and seemingly proud of it. Thank God I left when I did and I genuinely mean that.

    1. The Kings Lynn building is, of course, just one of the very few "traditional" structures remaining in use by the EB(PBCC) among a collection of sinister appearing "warehouses" behind steel fencing. Where such buildings still exist there are, no doubt, plans afoot to establish a central 'church" to replace the inconvenient window blocked structure. How deceitful of the PBCC to demonstrate their "rebuttal" by illustrating something so atypical of their property chain!

    2. This building is only one of two or three traditional structures remaining in the EB(PBCC) How deceitful, therefore, to use this as an example of a typical "church" when over 90% are designed along the uplifting lines of windowless, frozen food warehouses.


    3. How many new-build EB(PBCC) buildings (I am reluctant to call them churches) have windows which allow the public to see in? More and more modern churches built during the last decade have glass fronts and quite often areas where people can sit chatting informally over a cup of tea/coffee.
      How different from the EB experience where it is reported people are not allowed to talk freely after the meeting.

  5. "No more to be said"..Just as well, since the the initial comment is nonsense! it's not a storm in a tea cup in my network; more like an open can of worms.......

  6. "These people have the power to change governments and move mountains etc etc

    They do?

    Based on what evidence, or what authority? If it's one of their own leaders telling them so, that that's already looking dodgy.

    C'mon. Evidence please!

  7. "These people have the power to change governments and move mountains etc etc" Ha ha ha, they couldn't even move a wet dishtowel. Get a grip peeps.

    1. Sir Bruce Hales Almighty http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Almighty

  8. I suspect that the "chuckles of mirth" comment is a spoof.

    1. The trouble with spoof versions of Brethren views is that they are no more ridiculous than actual printed Brethren views, so it is difficult to tell the difference. For instance the “chuckles of mirth” comments about the Brethren’s all powerful political authority is no more deluded than Jim Taylor’s puffed-up bragging at Croydon and Ealing in July 1970.

      There we saw Mr Taylor giving his views about foreign policy, and saying that the Brethren, and he in particular, control the Heath Government, the Nixon Government, the House of Commons, the Secret Service, and Scotland Yard, telling them what to do and making them do it.

      “Down in South Africa they are going to give them some ammunition; that is fine! I go with that. I would agree with that, because I organised that.”

      “And old Nixon, he sent some more jets to the Jews; well, I told him to do that . . .”

      “Heath has got to do what I say. . . . He is going to do what we say here -- we, and we are the church!”

      “The fellows that run everything - the secret service, Scotland Yard: that's me. And if you don't believe it, you watch the happenings there is going to be in a few weeks.”

  9. Oh dear! So the sanctity of life was just another myth! It was about the only positive doctrine of this group and now even that has been blown out of the water!