Academy leaders must be prepared to call out inappropriate behaviour within their organisations, especially if it involves public money, the government’s top school funding boss has said.
Eileen Milner, the head of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), has written to the heads of single and multi academy trusts, to remind them that as accounting officers, they “carry the responsibility for using taxpayers’ money wisely”.
Be ready to challenge ‘inappropriate’ use of money, academy chiefs told
A flagship academy trust has been accused of placing extra, more experienced teachers into one of its schools during an Ofsted inspection to “deliberately and premeditatedly cheat” the system.
Ten extra staff were reportedly deployed to the Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane in north London during an inspection in May this year.
The team of highly experienced advisory teachers are said to have taught classes in place of less experienced staff at the Tottenham school.
The teachers union says the school gained an unfair advantage and may see its Ofsted rating increased from “good” to “outstanding” in the future as a result.
A Panorama investigation this week accused the Bright Tribe academy trust of making repeated false claims for building and maintenance grants.
Schools Week can now reveal at least two more trusts have misused the same funds, and that academies minister, Lord Agnew, responded to concerns about such misuse by admitting “there will always be bad apples in any system”.
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said the “insistence that there are just ‘some bad apples’ just won’t cut the mustard. It’s not good enough, because we know what a bad apple does, it rots the rest of the crop.”
Academy trusts: More than just one bad apple?
Veteran Labour politician Frank Field and high-profile Tory donor David Ross have been granted permission to jointly open a free school with a view to taking control of some existing schools later this year.
The Frank Field Education Trust is the brainchild of the MP for Birkenhead, and Ross, the millionaire founder of Carphone Warehouse, who chairs the New Schools Network.
Labour MP joins millionaire Tory donor to open new free school
Just days after I was selected as Labour parliamentary candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green (current occupant: Iain Duncan Smith) I received an email saying that Longshaw primary, a local school, was under threat after being severely run down by a multi-academy trust – Silver Birch – one of the unaccountable corporates now running our schools. I knew there would be examples of Tory policies gone wrong in this London suburb, but didn’t anticipate how much anger academisation had caused. The parents of these schools are part of a growing wave of accidental activists.
Even as a seasoned campaigner l found their experience shocking. Stories of children in tears after being told they had to rip up their work at the end of the year in an attempt to cover up the multiple changes in teachers: classes had up to seven different teachers over two years and staff were fired and then walked out of the school in front of the pupils. Parents told me there was a culture of fear among staff, depleted school funds, inflated salaries for managers.