Who is Gove giving our Primary Schools to?

Last year Michael Gove announced that 200 primary schools were ‘underperforming’ and he would force them to become academies if they didn’t do so ‘voluntarily’.

Since then he has continued his drive to force primaries to become academies. Parents in Downhills school have resisted their school becoming an academy and 1,000 people marched through Haringey to oppose 4 schools being forced to become academies. Since then Downhills had a short notice Ofsted inspection that, to nobody’s surprise, put the school in special measures. Nightingale school had their governors replaced by an Interim Executive Board and was forced to become an academy. Governors in 2 other primaries in Haringey gave in to Gove in the face of this harassment and agreed to become academies.

Gove has now identified 96 Primary schools and 65 secondary schools which are to become sponsored academies, many against the wishes of staff and pupils.

So who is Gove handing the schools to?

The top of the list is as follows:

Academies Enterprise Trust (AET)




The Kemnal Academies Trust


Absolute Return for Kids (ARK)


Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust


David Ross Foundation – Education Trust


Navigate Academies Trust (NAT)



Gove and his supporters claim that academies are ‘proven to succeed’. So what is the track record of these sponsors?

We have looked at the GCSE results for these schools. When we compare results below it is for 5 A*-C GCSEs including English and Maths.

The government recently removed 3,000 GCSE equivalents, where an exam would be counted as the equivalent of several GCSEs. While many school results were affected by this, academies were most affected, and academy chains did very badly.

The average drop (for all maintained schools nationally) is 6 percentage points between 5A*-C with English and Maths GCSEs only and 5A*-C with English and Maths with equivalents (53.2% cf 59.1%).


Academies Enterprise Trust (AET)

AET currently have 19 academies. Of these 7 have been open long enough to enter pupils for GCSEs.

These 7 academies show a 46.5% pass rate for GCSEs including equivalents. But when the equivalents are taken out this drops to 33%, with one academy, Clacton Coastal Academy, dropping by 21%.

With just 7 academies worth of experience the government have decided to double the number of academies run by AET to 38, making it the largest chain in the country.



E-act has had plenty of problems in its short life. E-Act was formerly known as Edutrust. They changed their operating name after the then head of Edutrust Lord Bhatia was accused of financial mismanagement and forced to resign. Until very recently E-act was run by Sir Bruce Liddington who was paid a cool £265,000, making him the highest paid person in school education. Sir Bruce left rather suddenly at the end of February.

E-act currently has 16 academies and 11 have entered pupils for GCSEs.

They average 41% GCSEs with equivalents but this tumbles to 29% without equivalents. The Crest Boys academy in Brent dropped 28% when equivalents are removed and North Birmingham academy dropped 26%.

Gove is giving E-act 11 more schools.


The Kemnal Academies Trust

The Kemnal Academies Trust (KAT) currently run 12 academies of which 5 entered  pupils for GCSEs.

Kemnal results fall from 52% to 39%, a drop of 13%. Orchards Academy dropped from 48% to 16%, a drop of 32%

The government have given Kemnal an extra 10 schools.

(this information was amended on 08/03/12 after a mistake was rectified)

ARK was set up by Hedge Fund managers, the people who pushed the world economy over the edge.

ARK currently run 11 schools of which 5 have entered pupils for GCSEs. ARK results fall from 64% to 43%, a drop of 21%, with St Albans in Birmingham dropping 45% from 67% to 22%. This is the worst drop in the country.

ARK also have some troubling permanent exclusion rates. The average for local authorities is .15%

The Globe academy excluded 1.31%, nearly 9 times the national average. Walworth academy excluded .97%.

ARK has been given 6 more schools.


Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust

The Greenwood Sale Foundation Trust runs 4 schools, of which 2 entered pupils for GCSEs in 2011.

The Nottingham Academy drops from 47% to 31% without equivalents, but the Skegness academy tumbles 44% from 45% to 1% when equivalents are removed!

Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust is trusted by Gove to run 6 more schools.


David Ross Foundation – Education Trust

The David Ross Foundation currently runs 4 academies. The Havelock Academy boast that since opening in 2007 its GCSEs have increased from 23% to 41%. Their website predicted they would hit 50% in 2011 but in fact they dropped to 36%. This drops a further 7% to 29% without equivalents. Their only other school to have entered pupils for GCSEs is the Malcolm Arnold Academy. This scored 34% GCSEs dropping to 29% as well without equivalents.

David Ross Foundation has earned itself another 4 schools.


Navigate Academies Trust

If you hadn’t heard of the Navigate Academies Trust you are in good company. Neither had we. This is for one simple reason – they don’t run any academies!

They have a snappy website and make lots of lovely promises but don’t have a single school. Indeed they refer to ‘partner schools’ at both primary and secondary level but can’t name them, referring to School A and School B.

The snappy website tells us that “The Navigate Academies Trust team brings together leading professionals in education, HR, project management and business processes.”

They are actually an arm of Navigate Group which appears to run a consultancy / recruitment service for schools, colleges and local authorities. For a profit, we assume.

Michael Gove has naturally given them 4 schools.


The Anti Academies Alliance has never claimed that all academies fail. However what has become clear over the last few months is that when you consider academies by GCSE results, exclusions and increasingly Ofsted reports, they are far from ‘proven to succeed’.

This latest development, forcing primaries to become academies, is not based on evidence, it is based on ideology. Gove is committed to forcing a market in education on our schools. Waiting in the wings are those who believe that schools should be run for profit.

We need to organise to resist every one of these schools becoming academies.


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7 Responses to Who is Gove giving our Primary Schools to?

  1. Andrew says:

    I used to “teach” at Clacton Coastal Academy and at the school that it replaced, which was called Colbayns. Now, while Colbayns High School was not an easy school to teach in, it did have a supportive and family-like atmosphere. The school was improving, rather slowly though. However, the AET took over the school and merged it with a neighbouring school and we became Clacton Coastal Academy under the AET. Since this has happened, the school’s Ofsted ratings should be questioned as it became apparent that some of the senior management team members had deals with Ofsted. You can’t trust the Ofsted reports from this school because the behaviour is so appalling that it would be difficult to see how a school can get the ratings it gets. Also, the school is so badly ran with 23 to 25 year olds quickly becoming senior staff. Staff morale was extremely low. There were too many chiefs in charge that no one knew what was going on or how to implement changes. I would certainly rather chew broken glass than send any child there. The place is extremely corrupt and truly represents the dire state of British education.

  2. Samantha Trask says:

    TKAT took over our primary school last year we also had a new headmaster who has turned our “failing” school into an “excellent” school however even though he has a seven year contract with our school he has “mysteriously” resigned (forced out) and no one is allowed to tell us anything :( there was no working of his notice no chance to say goodbye or even thank him for the work he has done :( the whole atmosphere has changed in the school and we are currently fighting to get our headmaster back :) down with TKAT

  3. A Governor says:

    As a Governor of many years in a Primary School that has served the local community extremely well (‘their’ words not our), the discussion about trust in the inspection regime is absolutely correct. We have recently been inspected and then had our judgements and report changed so much that you would think it was a different school they inspected which completely undermines the whole inspection process. We said at the time to the lead inspector if it was worth him actually being in the school as he obviously arrived with the report already written.
    Because the only inspectors are those appointed by Government, when we (schools) have a questionable inspection, there is no means to challenge effectively the comments and opinions of the Inspector and will lose every time. We were lucky, but only in part. We already know what the next inspection report will say as we were given Notice to Improve last time. That report has already been written despite all the interventions and evidence (that was ignored or disregarded last time) that we have to say we are a Good School.
    If I were a cynic I would think there is a Political Agenda to all this.
    If you have a school that is falling apart (building structure, not management) that is going to cost large sums of money to put right, the easy route would be to sell them off to ‘business’, especially when that cost is driven by public pressure to account for all the schools with asbestos in them, that the current Government refuses to acknowledge or include as part of any school condition surveys.

  4. Rita Egan says:

    What needs monitoring is privatisation and profit. No academy trust should make profit from education provision funded by the taxpayer

  5. Jane says:

    I doubt very much whether there are many people who would disagree that there needs to be some form of inspection/monitoring of schools. However, this should be transparent, free from political interference and unbiassed.

    We had Blair’s “tough” inspections to produce thousands of “failing” schools. Then the “light touch” inspections to “demonstrate” that schools had improved. Now Gove is going through the same process.

    Having read loads of Ofsted reports (I wish someone would do a proper research project) the judgements do not seem to match, for example, exam results. I suspect that there is a bias against schools with more deprived intakes. Subjectively, it also seems that schools which focus on p.r. rather than education get more favourable reports.

    In the good old days of ILEA, I had a visit from a Maths inspector. He arrived during the lesson and completely misunderstood what I was doing – he interfered. However, because of the structure, I was able to shout at him after the lesson and receive an apology.

    This compares with 2 Ofsted inspections I endured. In the first, the school was given “serious weaknesses”, mainly because the lead inspector clashed with the head. The judgements on teaching etc, did not merit the overall judgement. The lay inspector made is clear she didn’t like state education and sent her own children to private schools.

    In the second, the Art Department came in for very heavy criticism. Why? Because the head of department was, that year, teaching in lower school. The inspector decided that he should teach at GCSE and “A” level, for no reason other than her own prejudices. Although we were able to modify the report, there was no apology.

    I think that, when there is a lay inspector from a local housing estate involved, then I may start feeling that Ofsted is not the puppet of the Government as is evident from the disgraceful Downhills and Haringey saga.

    The problem is that any decent system of monitoring costs money.

  6. Alan Stanton says:

    There’s one very serious problem in all this which I haven’t seen much discussed. I’d appreciate any suggestions/links to helpful websites/publications.

    We do need some reliable measures of school effectiveness to make reliable comparisons.
      And a very worrying question is: how How far can we now trust OFSTED? Until 2000 Chris Woodhead, who ran it, seemed to relish being widely loathed and provoking outrage.
      Saying this may not make me popular, but personally I never had a problem with schools being told some home truths. Provided they were true. In 1994, becoming a new school governor of a primary which went into ‘Special Measures’ I found both the OFSTED inspectors and the HMI very helpful. They were an external source of expert advice, not just about the strengths and weaknesses of the school, but what needed to change, the key priorities, and the pace required.
      Even their names inspired my trust. Our HMI was Martin Cribb and the contact person at the DFE was Elizabeth Passmore. Mr Cribb was charming; and extremely perceptive with razor sharp observations and comments which were always constructive. There was no point trying to bullshit him. Nor was there any bullshit in what he or his colleagues wrote or told us. It was thoughtful judgements based on factual evidence. (I realise other schools had a totally different experience of OFSTED teams.)
      Best of all it seemed to me they had no agenda apart from a relentless focus on school improvement. Which the Governors, school staff, and local authority (Haringey) shared.
      There was no sales pitch for some politician’s daft ideas – whether Tony Blair’s or Michael Gove’s pet schemes. And certainly no compulsion for parents to have their kids forced to become guinea pigs in an untested experiment.
      But right now I know hardly anyone who trusts OFSTED judgements and is not totally cynical about its criteria.
      Yet we do need a school inspection regime we can trust. Just as I want a surveyor who tells me the bad news about my roof; an accountant who is cruelly honest about my finances; and a hospital consultant who doesn’t pause before the operation to announce: “We use and recommend Dracula blood products”.

  7. Janet says:

    Kemnal (and they might well not be the only academy chain on this list) are such a new and inexperienced provider that none of their schools have been through an Ofsted inspection since they have been overseeing it.

    Don’t forget folks, it’s all about proven track records!

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