Sir Daniel Moynihan says that the Harris Federation has commissioned a construction firm to look at its school sites. The firm has identified “six or seven” sites where there is land “surplus to the play[ground] requirements” on which 100 housing units could be built.
Although the land is owned on a freehold basis by local councils, Harris has long leases and Moynihan thinks “it may be possible to negotiate to sell off some off the surplus land”. The councils would get a return, but Harris would also receive some capital which could be used to part-fund housing construction.
Harris would then partner with a housing association to build the units and manage them. “We don’t want to get involved in managing properties, because we need to focus on the schools,” Moynihan says.
However, Harris would be able to nominate teachers to live in the units at a subsidised rent below the market rate. Teachers would be able to save towards a deposit over a few years and their tenancy would count towards right to buy for another property in the housing association’s portfolio.
While the accommodation would initially be let solely to Harris teachers, Moynihan says that, if they were to change schools and move to another employer, they would be able to stay in their property.
Moynihan presented his proposals to the education secretary Justine Greening earlier this year and he says that she “seemed keen”. Harris has also discussed the idea with LocateED. Moynihan thinks if the plan received the go ahead, he could have teachers in units in “two to three years”.
However, to get the plan off the ground it would require “a committee supported by the DfE, with people from different government departments” to facilitate it.
Conversations about the scheme have continued behind the scenes but the scheme is yet to be signed off.
Meg Hillier, the chair of the public accounts committee, says that key worker housing schemes along the lines envisaged by Harris sometimes pose “quite awkward” questions around eligibility criteria.
But she says that short of solving the overall housing problem, LocateED’s support for such schemes could be the best bet for teachers struggling to find somewhere to live.