14 Academy Chains Barred from Managing More Schools

The Conservative Party Annual Conference

Michael Gove: The man now in charge of wrecking our children’s education. But only if you’re working or lower middle class.

The I newspaper also carried a story in its Friday edition (21st March 2014) that 14 academy chains, including the largest, the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) have been banned from running any more schools. The I stated that the reason for this were concerns about low standards and financial management in the schools the chains already manage.

The barred academies together manage about 200 state schools altogether. Apart from the Academies Enterprise Trust, which runs 75 schools, they also include the Academies Transformation Trust, which runs 16. This last company was criticised for paying over £50,000 to a trustee and a company owned by the daughter-in-law of the Trust’s chief executive. The other barred academy chains are the Barnfield Academies Trust, with seven schools, City of Wolverhampton Academy Trust, two schools, Djanogly Learning Trust, with five schools, and E-ACT with 34 schools. E-Act were forced to return a third of these 34 schools to the state because of poor performance in Ofsted results. The other barred academy chains are the Grace Foundation with three schools, Landau Foundation with six, Lee Chapel Academy Trust with a single school, Prospects Academy Trust, which has five, South Nottingham College Academy Trust with two, The Learning Schools Trust, which has four, University of Chester Academies Trust, which has ten and the West Hertfordshire Teaching Schools partnership, which currently runs 25.

At the moment, the education watchdog, Ofsted, does not have the power to inspect academies, and Michael Gove has blocked calls for it to do so. After this news broke, the chief schools inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, and the Liberal Democrat Schools Minister, David Laws, both again called for Ofsted to be given such powers.

The article also quoted Mary Bousted, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, on the decision to stop these chains from expanding further. She said ‘My main concern is for the children … and whether they are getting a decent standard of education. It is one thing to say they can’t run anymore schools, but what’s happening in the schools already in place?’

Others found the timing of this news also suspicious. It was released at the same time as the Budget. The Labour MP and former universities minister, John Denham, who had made the request for information on the number of chains that had been barred, accused the Education Department of ‘burying bad news’. In response, the Department of Education stated that this was ‘way off beam’, as the information had been made available to parliament on Tuesday before the Budget.

That still sounds to me suspiciously close to the Budget, so that it sounds like the Tories were hoping that it would be overshadowed by it.

Mike over at Vox Political, Another Angry Voice, and a number of other bloggers have also covered the way the Tories are gradually privatising education. The academies can set their own wages and conditions and, as the article stated, are currently exempt from Ofsted inspection. Gove also wishes to remove the current requirement for teachers to possess a degree. The Conservatives appear determined to privatise the school system, even though this will lead to much lower standards. Of course, they especially have no sympathy for the teachers and other staff working in the schools, in the same way they have shown precious little sympathy or understanding of Britain’s workers in general. Except when they decide to patronise them with a penny off beer and less tax on bingo, of course. What matters to Gove and the rest of the Tories is that it should all be run for profit, regardless of poor results and standards.

The fact that 14 academy chains have been barred from acquiring any more schools and that Ofsted is not allowed to inspect academies indicates that there are serious problems with the Tories plans to replace state with private education. The whole policy needs to be abandoned, and the schools returned to responsible state management, rather than irresponsible trusts, which simply see education as an investment.

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6 Responses to “14 Academy Chains Barred from Managing More Schools”

  1. Mike Sivier Says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    There’s a debate going on at Vox Political on current standards of education (and health) in Wales, with several contributors deploring what the Labour-run Assembly government has done – yet here we see that Michael Gove is working hard to drive standards down as far as he can, over in England.
    Where would you rather be, folks? In England, where the Education Secretary is working hard to ensure that your state-educated child has the worst preparation for working life possible and cannot compete with the privately-educated offspring of the rich, or in Wales, where the administration is at least trying to provide a decent education for school pupils across the country?

  2. jaynel62 Says:

    Another Excellent post Beast – Shared

  3. 14 Academy Chains Barred from Managing More Sch... Says:

    […] Michael Gove: The man now in charge of wrecking our children's education. But only if you're working or lower middle class. The I newspaper also carried a story in its Friday edition (21st March 20…  […]

  4. Barry Davies Says:

    When can we expect the conservative party to be privatised, sorry it already has been.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Too true, and has been for a long while. They’ve always maintained that they are the party of business. In the early 1990s there was a series of scandals in that Tory MPs with interests in particular industries were put in charge of regulating them, so you had a series of Tory MPs with connections to the drinks industry then telling the government that there was nothing wrong with alcohol advertising or long opening hours, for example. As a result, Private Eye started printing lists of MPs and the companies in which they held posts as directors, managers or whatever.

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