The ATL has called for a register of interests for potential sponsors of academies and free schools. And responding to the Education Select Committee report, published today, the NUT says no-one connected to the running of a school should be allowed to …

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Education (EI), Teachers,

Houses of ParliamentThe ATL has called for a register of interests for potential sponsors of academies and free schools.

And responding to the Education Select Committee report, published today, the NUT says no-one connected to the running of a school should be allowed to make a profit from it.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “The NUT welcomes the Education Select Committee’s report which shines a light on to the murky conflicts of interest in academy sponsorship arrangements.

“The NUT has long been warning about the potential and very real conflicts of interest that arise when education becomes a market place. All of the examples provided in this report and the many more not detailed there, are the inevitable result of the marketisation of education. The NUT is quite clear: education should be managed in the interests of children, not in the interests of those who seek to make a profit from running our schools.

“The NUT supports the five recommendations made by the Education Select Committee. However we would like to see additional action taken.

“First we want to see all related party transactions outlawed – no one connected with running a school should be allowed to make money from their involvement either directly or indirectly. Second, we want to see greater transparency in the publication of academy and free school accounts.

“In particular, where a school is part of a multi-academy trust or academy chain, individual accounts for each school should be published separately, rather than, as is currently the case, just one set of accounts covering the entire trust or chain. This would allow greater scrutiny of potential conflicts of interest and of spending at school level.

“In addition, the NUT has long been highlighting the conflicts of interest arising from the relationship between academy brokers and academy chains or trusts. This practice must, quite simply, be brought to an end. It is totally unacceptable that those working on contract with the Department for Education to broker academy arrangements should at the same time be working for the academy trusts and chains that are set to take over these schools.”

Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary of policy at the ATL, said:“Millions of pounds of public money is being spent on this government’s academy and free school schemes. Evidence shows that £80 million has been spent on legal, accountancy, recruitment, property services and other consultancy fees connected with academy conversions. It is vital that the public can have confidence that this money is being spent to improve children’s education and not to line the pockets of shareholders and chief executives.

“Unfortunately, cases of financial mismanagement, conflicts of interest and poor educational standards keep coming to light, suggesting that the government does not have proper oversight of its academies. It is children and young people who lose out when academies fail.

“ATL’s education manifesto calls for an end to schools being run for profit, either directly or indirectly. We call for the establishment of a ‘fit and proper persons’ test, and a register of interests, for those involved in sponsoring, brokering or running academies or free schools. And we would like to see schools democratically accountable to their local communities with fully transparent funding and governance structures.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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