We were promised us an academy revolution, in which schools would be freed from local authority oversight, ahem sorry, oppression. A new report from the Education Select Committee lets us know how that’s going:

“In the course of the research we came across a significant number of real or potential conflicts of interest that we found concerning”

For example:

  • The head teacher at an academy who spent  £50,000 on a one day training course run by their friend, without consulting the governors
  • Executive heads of schools being trustees of their trust, and so could be involved with their own performance management and decide on their own pay package
  • The chair of a trust, who is also a lawyer, using his own company to provide all the legal services for the trust
  • Staff feeling obligated to employ a head teacher’s husband for a role within the trust which was unadvertised

The report also highlights corporate conflicts of interest:

  • Academy chains banning secondary schools outwith their network from making ‘transition visits’ to their primary schools, to prevent them from recruiting students
  • Secondary academies sponsored by FE colleges being pressurised to close their 6th forms

This comes after similar examples from a Public Accounts Committee report in June and elsewhere:

  • A fraud inquiry is ongoing at a school, now under special measures, which paid £162,000 to a company for which four members of staff worked
  • An academy chain paying £500,000 over three years to companies owned by trustees and executives
  • A trust paying £424,850 to a firm of solicitors in which the trust’s director was a partner
  • An executive head teacher, who already earned more than the prime minister, being paid taxpayers’ money to manage school facilities


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