The Secrecy of Finances of Academy Schools
Beneficiaries of Coalition policies are increasingly topical in the News, and recently we have heard of Cameron’s adviser Lynton Crosby’s involvement wiith the fracking industry and tobacco firms. When questioned, Cameron repeatedly attempts to evade the issue. While the press reports of “NHS” reforms and “Education Choice” as policies which are intent in improving public services, the reality is become clear. The Coalition is intent on stripping public assets. Services would continue to be funded by public money, but, open to profiteering – privatisation. Repeatedly, the monitoring methods are manipulated, and services starved of funds to give credence to the outdated idea of private good: public bad.
Head-teachers bought into the idea that schools should convert to Academy status because of financial incentives. In May 2012 overpayment to Academy Schools by £120 million pounds was revealed. A fair system should ensure that funds for education is distributed fairly, for all children. Certainly, funds intended for education should benefit the learners. But money intended for this purpose is benefitting the directors of Academy trusts as the Guardian reports..
The country’s largest taxpayer-funded academy chain, which was recently criticised for its poor performance in managing schools, has paid nearly £500,000 into the private business interests of its trustees and executives.
An investigation by the Observer has uncovered a series of payments over the past three years to companies in which those running the Academy Enterprise Trust (AET), a registered charity, have a beneficial interest. The payments were for services ranging from “project management” to “HR consultancy”, according to the academy chain’s company accounts. AET, which is based in Essex, has not provided further details. In all the cases the services had not been put out to competitive tender.
Ian Comfort, who has been company secretary since April 2012, was paid £232,960 in addition to his undisclosed salary for project management services that year.
A series of payments to AET’s trustees have also been revealed. Such payments, while legal, are described as “not normal practice” in a document published by the regulator of academies this month, and drawn up following consultation with the Charity Commission.
Henry Stewart reminds us how David Cameron promised that academy finances would be freely available to parents. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) demanded data showing academy level expenditure. But go to the DfE Performance Tables and you will find full financial information for maintained schools and nothing comparable for academies. Local Schools Network For maintained schools simply go to the DfE Performance Tables, (type in your post code and you will find comprehensive information for your local schools.)
We need to see how much money is going into schools
This is a direct contradiction of the statement that David Cameron made to the House of Commons Liaison Committee in March 2013 in response to questioning by Margaret Hodge, as Fiona Millar wrote about at the time
Hodge: “Take the case of academies . How do we know they provide value for money?”
Cameron: “People can increasingly see the funding per pupil that goes into the school and if we are successful in introducing a more national funding formula for schools that will be even clearer. The parent/teacher /local community knows how much follows the pupil into the school and can then see the results. We need to see how much money going into the schools and the results coming out. This will produce results for very transparent amounts of money that are going in.”
As citizens, who employ a government to serve us, we have a right to know exactly what is happening to public funds. This selective secrecy implies corruption. Furthermore, the repeated evasion of honesty by the prime-minister, when confronted by questions related to issues conflicts-of-interests is totally unacceptable, and parliament must address the issue. The Labour Party must demand answers.
It is time to show we have no confidence in this government and put it to the vote in the House of Commons. Who would support this corruption?