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Stephen Twigg warns against ‘quick buck’ school profit

Stephen Twigg warns against ‘quick buck’ school profit

BBC |May 31, 2012

By Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

Introducing profit-making into state schools in England risks attracting firms looking for a “quick buck”, says Labour’s Stephen Twigg.

The shadow education secretary says he was shocked that Education Secretary Michael Gove appeared to be considering free schools being run for profit.

Mr Gove had told the Leveson Inquiry on Tuesday that he had an“open mind” on such profit making in the future.

But Mr Twigg says such a change “risks the abuse of public resources”.

Labour’s education spokesman is to warn against profit-making in state schools in a speech to head teachers in London, later on Thursday.

‘Risk of abuse’

“There are real risks attached to the profit-making experiment,”he is set to tell a conference about education standards in London.

“It risks attracting people to our education system simply who wish to make a quick buck.

“It risks the abuse of public resources at a time when it is even more important that we ensure that every penny of taxpayers’money is spent wisely.”

Mr Twigg says he has just returned from Sweden, one of the inspirations for free schools – state-funded schools set up by charities or community groups.

But unlike in England, free schools in Sweden can be run for profit – and Mr Twigg will tell head teachers that this is raising concerns.

“One of the biggest is that it allows companies to run a free school for a period of time and then sell it on at a profit,” says Mr Twigg.

“I don’t believe that the profit-making motive is what will improve educational outcomes in schools in our country.

“If there is an operating surplus, that should be invested back into educating our children rather than paying a dividend to shareholders.”

Profit ‘not necessary’

Mr Twigg will tell head teachers that Michael Gove had given his “strongest hint that he could allow companies to make a profit from running schools”.

This followed an exchange at the Leveson Inquiry, when Mr Gove was asked about the prospect of free schools being run for profit.

Mr Gove had said that “the free-school movement can thrive without profit”.

When he was further pressed whether it would be desirable to generate a profit, Mr Gove said: “There are some of my colleagues in the coalition who are very sceptical of the benefits of profit. I have an open mind.”

The education secretary was then asked about the “aspiration”that a second-term Conservative-led government would allow free schools to be run for profit.

Mr Gove replied: “It’s my belief that we could move to that situation,” adding: “But I think at the moment it’s important to recognise that the free-schools movement is succeeding without that element, and I think we should cross that bridge when we come to it.”

At present, free schools cannot be run for profit – but the trusts that run them can buy management services from profit-making firms.

There have been criticisms from teachers’ unions about the blurring of this boundary.

The NASUWT criticised the £21m contract awarded to a profit-making Swedish company for managing a free school in Suffolk.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “This government has no plans to allow free schools or academies to make profit.

“Any income earned by the charitable trust must be reinvested to improve and advance education for pupils.”

Rachel Wolf, the director of the New Schools Network (which helps groups prepare free school bids), says the idea of profit in schools should be looked at.

“There is serious momentum already in the free schools movement, but if free schools are to go to scale then profit has to be considered,” she said.

“Every child has the right to a high quality – and free -education, regardless of who provides it.”


Most schools miss out on privately financed renovation programme

Most schools miss out on privately financed renovation programme

guardian.co.uk |by Jeevan Vasagar

  • Jeevan Vasagar, education editor
  • guardian.co.uk, Thursday 24 May 2012 09.56 EDT
Michael Gove

The education secretary, Michael Gove, said 261 schools out of 587 that applied would be included in the£2bn PFI scheme. Photograph: Olivia Harris/Reuters

Fewer than half of the schools that applied for renovation under the government’s privately financed school building programme have been successful, it has been announced.

The education secretary, Michael Gove, said just 261 schools out of 587 that applied would be rebuilt or refurbished under the £2bn PFI scheme, despite widespread concern about the state of school buildings.

A survey for the Observer revealed 39% of headteachers believed their school buildings were not fit for purpose, with complaints of overcrowding, leaking ceilings and poor ventilation.

Gove admitted the manner in which he cancelled Labour’s mammoth school building programme had been “clumsy and insensitive”. Within weeks of coming to power, the coalition scrapped the £55bn Building Schools for the Future project, saying it was wasteful and bureaucratic.

More than 700 school building projects were cancelled and Gove was forced to apologise after errors on a list of affected projects meant some schools thought their building work was going ahead when it had in fact been halted.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One on Thursday, Gove said: “I think it was necessary to stop the Building Schools for the Future programme because it wasn’t efficient, even if the way I made the announcement was clumsy… it was insensitive, and more than that, it left people in a state of uncertainty because they were led to believe by the previous government that schools desperately needed to be rebuilt and were left high and dry.”

The government announced the scheme to rebuild the most dilapidated schools, the Priority School Building Programme, last July. The deadline for applications was mid-October.

The announcement of successful bids has been delayed for months, while a baby boom has put intense pressure on space in primary schools. An east London council is drawing up plans to convert an empty Woolworths store into a classroom and teach children in two shifts as part of emergency measures to cope with the rising number of primary age pupils.

In a statement, Gove said rebuilding work would begin immediately and the new schools would be open in 2014.

“I recognise many of the schools that applied and have been unsuccessful will also have significant needs. Some will have their needs addressed through other funding we have made available for maintenance,” he said.

The government has commissioned a survey of the school estate which will detail the condition of every school in England by next autumn.

There are 42 schools – those in the worst condition and all the special needs schools in the programme – that will be fast-tracked for urgent building work.

Gove’s statement added: “I know many schools will be disappointed not to be included in the programme. We have had to take difficult decisions in order to target spending on those schools in the worst condition.”

PFI, which involves private contractors paying upfront for schools and hospital buildings, then leasing them back for up to 30 years, has become increasingly expensive since the financial crisis.

Gove said the Department for Education was working with the Treasury to reform the PFI model and provide “cost-effective and more transparent” delivery of services. Under the school rebuilding scheme, schools will manage and control services such as cleaning, catering and security.

Traditional PFI deals involve the automatic bundling of services such as cleaning into construction contracts. This has beencriticised by the Treasury for failing to deliver value for money.

Unions are concerned staff lose out on pay and conditions when such services are contracted out.

Nusrat Faizullah, chief executive of the British Council for School Environments, an education charity, said: “It’s great to finally see some schools, at least, will be replaced or refurbished.

” It’s also good to see that schools in the very worst condition will be fast-tracked.”

“But this only is a beginning. Hundreds of schools have lost out after being told by the previous government their schools will be rebuilt; they too must have their building needs addressed.”

Steve Beechey, head of education at construction firm Wates, described the statement as “light on the detail” of how the new school buildings would be procured and the timeframes involved.“Given that it typically takes at least two years from the time a decision is made to build a school until it is ready to open, it is essential that the government swiftly follows up today’s announcement with more information on how it intends to prioritise projects for delivery.”

In the same interview, Gove denied the closure of grammar schools was responsible for a decline in social mobility. He said:“Selection isn’t a magic bullet. If you look across the worldat those countries that have successful education systems, yes, some of them are selective, like Singapore. Others, Finland, South Korea, Japan, aren’t.

“So it’s not the case that you need to have selection in order to have a successful education system which advances social mobility.”

He added the decline in social mobility had more to do with progressive teaching methods and softer subjects in state schools.“In fact there were other changes occurring in education – a move away from traditional subjects rigorously taught in many cases. It would be wrong to look back at the 60s and 70s and say that the move away from grammar schools was the sole cause of adverse changes.”

The 200 schools are:

Barking and Dagenham

Eastbrook Comprehensive School

Eastbury Comprehensive School


Pardes House Primary School


Castle Vale Performing Arts College

Hallmoor School

Heathlands Junior and Infant School

Kings Norton High School

Plantsbrook School

Turves Green Boys’ School


Collegiate High School

Hawes Side Primary School

Highfurlong School

Palatine Sports College


Belle Vue Boys’ School

Carlton Bolling College

Oakbank School

The Samuel Lister Academy


Alperton Community School

Copland Community School


Hillfields Primary School

St Anne’s Park Primary School

St Ursula’s E-ACT Academy


Harris Academy Beckenham

Harris Academy Bromley


The Elton High School


The Manor


Hampstead School

Maria Fidelis Convent School FCJ

Cheshire West and Chester

Blacon High School

Crowton Christ Church C of E Primary School

Dee Point Primary School

Highfield Community Primary School *

J H Godwin Primary School

Neston High School


Alice Stevens School

Ernesford Grange Community School

President Kennedy School

Richard Lee Primary School

St Thomas More Catholic Primary School

Whitmore Park Primary School

Wyken Croft Primary School


The Archbishop Lanfranc School


Southfield Technology College (joint application with Stainburn School and Science College)

St James C of E Junior School

Stainburn School and Science College (joint application with Southfield Technology College)


Asterdale Primary School

Carlyle Infant School

Cavendish Close Junior School

Chaddesden Park Infant School (joint application with Chaddesden Park Junior School)

Lees Brook Community School

Reigate Primary School

Woodlands School


Alfreton Grange Arts College


Chagford C of E Primary School

Haytor View Community Primary School

Ilfracombe Arts College

Ladysmith Junior School

Newton Poppleford Primary School

Newton St Cyres Primary School

South Molton Community College

South Molton United C of E Junior School

The Castle Primary School

The Grove Primary School


Askern Moss Road Infant School

Don Valley Academy and Performing Arts College


Durham Trinity School and Sports College

King James I Academy Bishop Auckland

Seaham School of Technology

St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School

West Cornforth Primary School


Mayfield Primary School

East Riding of Yorkshire

Goole High School

Hessle High School and Sixth Form College

Withernsea High School

Wolfreton School


Lawford Mead Primary (replaces Lawford Mead Infant and Lawford Mead Junior Schools)

The Edith Borthwick School


Charles Thorp Comprehensive School

Front Street Community Primary School

Hill Top School

Lingey House Primary School

Roman Road Primary School


Eltham C of E Primary School

Invicta Primary School

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Primary School

The Eltham Foundation School

Wingfield Primary School


Halebank C of E (VC) Primary School

The Heath School


Aylward Primary School

Cedars Manor School

Marlborough Primary School

Priestmead Primary School and Nursery

Salvatorian College

Vaughan Primary School

Weald Infant School (joint application with Weald Junior School)

Weald Junior School (joint application with Weald Infant School)


Barnard Grove Primary School

Holy Trinity C of E Primary School

Manor College of Technology


Hacton Primary School

Suttons Primary School

The Mawney Foundation School


Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ School

Garston Manor School

Goffs School

Kings Langley School

Longdean School

The Highfield School

Westfield Community Technology College


Abbotsfield School

Northwood School

Swakeleys School


Hounslow Manor School

Isle of Wight

Carisbrooke College

Christ the King College

Oakfield C of E Aided Primary School

Ryde Academy


Aylesham Primary School

Castle Community College

Chantry Primary School

Culverstone Green Primary School

Halfway Houses Primary School

Laleham Gap School

Meopham School

Priory Fields School

Sevenoaks Primary School

Smarden Primary School

St Philip Howard Catholic Primary School

The Canterbury Primary School

Westlands Primary School

York Road Junior Academy

Kingston upon Hull

Ainthorpe Primary School

Eastfield Primary School

Foredyke Primary School

Francis Askew Primary School

Neasden Primary School

Wold Primary School


All Saints Catholic College Specialist in Humanities

Mount Pleasant Junior Infant and Nursery School

Whitcliffe Mount Business and Enterprise College


Allen Edwards Primary School

Charles Edward Brooke School

Glenbrook Primary School

Lansdowne School

The Orchard School


Forest Lodge Primary School


Sir Francis Drake Primary School


Aigburth High School

Redbridge High School


Stopsley High School


Camberwell Park Specialist Support School

Plymouth Grove Primary School

Stanley Grove Primary School


Little Ilford School

Stratford School Academy

North East Lincolnshire

Great Coates Primary School

North Lincolnshire

Baysgarth School

Brumby Junior School

Burton-upon-Stather Primary School

Crosby Primary School

Grange Lane Primary (replaces Grange Lane Infant and Grange Lane Junior Schools)

Henderson Avenue Primary School

The Vale Academy

North Tyneside

John Spence Community High School

Longbenton Community College

Marden High School

Whitehouse Primary School

North Yorkshire

Harrogate High School


Bedlingtonshire Community High School

Prudhoe Community High School

The Duchess’s Community High School


Glenbrook Primary and Nursery School

Springfield Primary School

Top Valley School and Engineering College


Abbey Primary School

Annie Holgate Infant School (joint application with Annie Holgate Junior School)

Annie Holgate Junior School (joint application with Annie Holgate Infant School)

Carsic Primary School

Ethel Wainwright Primary School

Fountaindale School

John Davies Primary School

Leamington Primary and Nursery School

Lynncroft Primary School

Rosebrook Primary School

Serlby Park Academy (Primary school co-location with Secondary school)

Serlby Park Academy (Secondary school co-location with Primary school)

South Nottinghamshire Academy

Sunnyside Primary and Nursery School

The Grove School


Saddleworth School


St John’s Church School

West Town Primary School


Montacute School


King Richard School


Reading Girls’ School

Redcar and Cleveland

Handale Primary School

Laurence Jackson School

Richmond upon Thames

The Queen’s C of E Primary School


Oakwood Technology College

Wath Victoria Primary School


Mesne Lea Primary School


Hall Green Primary School

Harvills Hawthorn Primary School

The Phoenix Collegiate


Fox Hill Primary School

Prince Edward Primary School


Slough Grammar School


Bitterne Park School

The Cedar School

St. Helens

Mill Green School


Clough Hall Technology School

Gnosall St Lawrence C of E (C) Primary School

Moorgate Community Primary School


Abingdon Primary School

Bridge Hall Primary School

St John’s C of E Primary School

St Mary’s R C Primary School

Werneth School


Grangefield School

Ian Ramsey C of E Aided Comprehensive School

Mandale Mill Primary School

St Michael’s Roman Catholic School


Chantry High School

Great Cornard Upper School and Technology College


Hetton School

Hylton Castle Primary School

Shiney Row Primary School

St Anthony’s Catholic Girls’ Academy

Usworth Grange Primary School


Pyrford C of E Aided Primary School

Riverview C of E Primary and Nursery School

St Bede’s C of E Aided Junior School

St Lawrence C of E Aided Junior School


Broadoak Primary School

Flowery Field Primary School

Holden Clough Community Primary School

Silver Springs Academy


Castleford Redhill Infant School (with Castleford Redhill Junior School)

Castleford Redhill Junior School (with Castleford Redhill Infant School)

Waltham Forest

Buxton School

George Mitchell School

Hawkswood Primary PRU

Selwyn Primary School

St Joseph’s Catholic Infant School


Chestnut Grove School


William Beamont Community High School


Queen Elizabeth School


Britannia Bridge Primary School

The Deanery Church of England High School and Sixth Form College


St Mary’s C of E Infant School (joint application with St Peter’s C of E Junior School)

St Peter’s C of E Junior School (joint application with St Mary’s C of E Infant School)

Wyvern College


Bedford Drive Primary School

Foxfield School

Ridgeway High School


Edward the Elder Primary School

Wood End Primary School


Carr Infant School

Lord Deramore’s Primary School

Education Secretary Michael Gove loses High Court battle

Education Secretary Michael Gove loses High Court battle

BBC |May 17, 2012

Education Secretary Michael Gove has lost a High Court battle with Essex County Council over government cuts to nursery funding.

The council claimed Mr Gove breached equality laws when he slashed part of its budget by £10m in 2010 – hitting the county’s disabled children.

The High Court ruled Mr Gove’s decision was unlawful and must be reviewed.

Mr Justice Mitting found Mr Gove had not met his legal obligations under equality laws.

Andrew Sharland, for Essex County Council, told the court the council was told its budget for nursery and primary school building projects would be about £27m for 2008 to 2011.

‘Duty of equality’

It said it had allocated more than £26m of that money, by June 2010, to building projects aimed at improving pre-school education, particularly for the disabled.

But when Mr Gove announced his cuts in July that year, the council was told to review its spending and identify any“uncommitted” funds, the court heard.

A dispute then arose between Westminster and Essex over how much money had been allocated – with government accountants estimating more than £12m was still in the pot, but the council insisting they had less then £2m left.

Essex County Council argued that by not consulting it before cutting funding by £10.7m, Mr Gove breached his “equality duties”.

Mr Sharland told the court: “The grant was expressly aimed at meeting the needs of disabled children. Further, the level of funding was calculated taking into account the level of deprivation in a particular area.”

He added: “It is clear that equality issues were neither‘central’ to the decision making process nor exercised in substance with rigor and an open mind.”

‘Greater knowledge’Government lawyers insisted the decision making process was correctly handled.

Mr Justice Mitting ruled: “Local authorities obviously would have greater knowledge of the impact the cuts would have on families in their areas and it would be reasonable for the Secretary of State to assume that any such detailed assessment would be carried out by the local authority.”

He added: “Accordingly, I do not accept that the Secretary of State, either personally or through his officials, fully discharged the duty upon them.”

The Department for Education has yet to comment.

Councils Sell Properties To Fund School Refurbishment

Councils Sell Properties To Fund School Refurbishment

news | Published in TES magazine on 30 March, 2012| By: Richard Vaughan

Local authorities shed assets to plug gap left by BSF cancellation

Town hall chiefs are being forced to sell public assets in a bid to raise cash to refurbish schools, after the cancellation of the government’s multibillion-pound school rebuilding programme.

Both Camden and Liverpool councils have announced plans to auction land and public buildings to generate much-needed funds to patch up their crumbling school estates. The two local authorities had been in line to receive hundreds of millions of pounds under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, but the scheme was scrapped by education secretary Michael Gove 18 months ago.

The cancellation of BSF was compounded by the near 80 per cent cuts to schools’ devolved capital formula grants, which allow headteachers to pay for general maintenance.

Camden’s schools were anticipating £200 million in extra capital from BSF, but council bosses have had to resort to selling some of their assets to make up the shortfall. The North London borough believes it is in an almost unique position to cope with the cuts to its capital budget, owing to the capital’s high property prices. The council anticipates raising £117 million to help improve 57 schools and children’s centres, including building a completely new primary school.

Councillor Theo Blackwell, Camden’s cabinet member for finance, said the local authority has made the commitment to invest any proceeds it raises into schools to avoid a “crisis” five years down the line.

The capital is facing a school places emergency. It is estimated that by 2015, areas such as Camden will be in need of tens of thousands more places owing to demographic changes.

“We know if we don’t invest in our schools then people will end up voting with their feet and teachers and parents will end up leaving our schools. We lost £200 million, and by not continuing to invest in schools, in five years’ time schools would be facing a capital crisis,” Mr Blackwell said.

Fiona Millar, chair of governors at the borough’s William Ellis School, said that while her school was “extremely grateful” for the work the council had done, the amount of capital being made available by the government “for small refurbishments” was discouraging.

Camden said it was trying to take innovative approaches to school refurbishment, with one school, Netley Primary, being funded by building affordable housing above the school. According to the council, a £9 million refurbishment of the school will be paid for by the sale of £28 million of private housing on the same site.

Liverpool council is looking at equally imaginative solutions. The local authority lost £350 million of BSF money, but revealed a £100 million rescue package back in September.

The city has brokered a deal to build three schools with a construction company, EdVenture, which builds flexible learning environments similar to structures used in airport terminals that can be constructed at half the cost of conventional schools.

The first school to have proposals drawn up was Notre Dame Catholic College, which could share its site with a doctors’surgery and an indoor market. Notre Dame’s headteacher Frances Harrison said she was looking forward to the possibility of a new building for the school.

“More than 80 per cent of our students come from within two miles of our new building’s location, which means this regeneration will create local facilities for local people,” she said.


Camden Council has warned any school contemplating converting to academy status that it will not receive any rebuilding cash from the local authority.

Council chiefs have told heads that if they go independent they will have to source capital from the government or their academy sponsors.

None of the borough’s schools has opted to convert. The UCL Academy, which opens this year, will be Camden’s only academy.

“It’s a question of fairness. We don’t think money that is for local authority schools should be made available to academies as that would not be fair to the maintained schools,” Councillor Theo Blackwell said.

Funding Reform Is Off The Agenda

Funding Reform Is Off The Agenda

news | Published in TES magazine on 30 March, 2012| By: Richard Vaughan

Michael Gove accused of ‘bottling it’ over plans to overhaul ‘unfair’ system

Local authorities representing the worst-funded schools in the country have accused education secretary Michael Gove of “bottling it” over plans to bring in a fairer funding system that would eliminate financial inequalities between schools.

Last year, the government launched a consultation to radically reform how schools were funded by 2013-14 in an attempt to deal with disparities that have led to similar schools being funded at drastically different levels.

Speaking at the time, schools minister Lord Hill was clear that it was a “priority”. “Headteachers tell us that the current funding system is unfair and illogical,” he said.“Having a fairer system is not just right in principle – it would enable parents to see more clearly how schools are doing with the funding they receive.”

But this week, Mr Gove admitted that he has been forced to drop any plans to rush through a new settlement within this Parliament. He said that, while there is a clear need to tackle the differences in funding between schools, the current economic climate means that“stability must be a priority”.

The sheer complexity of the current system and the size of the existing inequalities, Mr Gove said, mean that “we need to take care in how we proceed”. He added that the government has decided “to make gradual progress towards reform”.

His decision to kick the reforms into the long grass – certainly until after the next election in 2015 – has led to concerns among campaigners that the policy has been effectively shelved.

The move comes as a bitter blow for the country’s worst-funded schools, with the f40 group, an organisation that campaigns for fairer school funding in the country’s lowest-funded local authorities, stating that it was“devastated” by the news and that Mr Gove had“bottled it”.

The current funding system means that the funding per pupil in a primary school can vary by as much as £1,300 in different parts of the country, while the disparity between secondary schools can reach £1,800 per student. In a 1,000-pupil school, the funding system can mean a secondary receiving £1.8 million less – the equivalent of around 40 new teachers.

Schools in central London, for instance, receive far greater sums per pupil than schools in Somerset.

Ivan Ould, chair of the f40 group and a Leicestershire county councillor, added that the announcement to put off a fairer funding formula was “totally unacceptable”.

“Mr Gove and his government have made it clear that they accept that the present system is unfair, so to put off meaningful change for a further three years – but probably many more – is just plain wrong,” Mr Ould said.

The f40 group has been campaigning for a change to how schools are funded for nearly 20 years, and it added that it will be pushing for an increase in funding to its members’ schools over the remainder of this Parliament.

“Even if only 0.25% had been offered immediately and again in the next few years, that would have been a start to narrow the disparity gap,” Mr Ould added.

Kevin Bullock, head of Fordham Church of England Primary School in Cambridgeshire, said that he and his colleagues were“longing for the day” when schools were more equally funded.

“The council does the best it can with limited resources but, at the end of the day, it isn’t fair,” Mr Bullock said. “I am not sure that there is the political will to change the system. Call me cynical, but I’ve been head here for 16 years and we’ve always had less funding – I won’t be holding my breath that it will come any time soon.”

The government is keenly aware of the problems that beset the way the country’s schools are allocated money, but has been pegged back by the sheer complexity of the existing funding method.

But while the country’s worst-funded schools have expressed their disappointment, the decision to delay a new funding formula has been welcomed by heads’ and teachers’leaders.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has repeatedly warned that any new formula could produce new inequalities in the system.

Speaking at the ASCL’s annual conference last weekend, the education secretary pointed out the level of complexity in the existing funding formula, claiming that “even Malcolm Trobe”, the ASCL’s deputy general secretary for policy, could not say why schools end up with the amount of cash they do.

And Mr Trobe acknowledged that, while it was a disappointment for the worst-funded schools, the delay was a “sensible decision”. “Rushing into overly simplistic funding changes without proper testing would simply be rearranging the deckchairs,” Mr Trobe said. “Because it is so difficult to predict the knock-on effect of changing one part of the formula, the proposals must be thoroughly modelled at both local authority and school level before they are implemented.”

NUT general secretary Christine Blower added that changing a funding system at a time of budget constraints “was not fair”.


A report by the highly respected Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) looking into a new, fairer funding formula said that it would lead to schools in inner-city areas suffering cuts of more than 10 per cent to their budgets.

In November last year, the IFS released a study that showed schools in areas such as Liverpool, Wigan, Wolverhampton and Coventry would see their budgets shrink by an average of 6 per cent, but in some cases more than 10 per cent.

“An explicit national formula offers significant advantages, including simplicity, transparency and responsiveness of school funding,” said Luke Sibieta, senior research economist at the IFS. “But change would also bring costs and disruption with large losses for some schools.”

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