Following a series of Freedom of Information requests, The Guardian has reported that at least 9 chains of academy schools are paying millions of pounds to businesses associated with their directors and trustees. The schools involved are not accused of having broken any rules, and the Department for Education said there was “no evidence” that academies were more likely to make such payments than other institutions. Labour has described the report as “deeply concerning”.
Olly from PSI: the relationship between education service businesses and academies has been a core part of the development of the sector, as experienced organisations have been able to pump resources and expertise directly into non-for-profit schools in order to improve standards. However, the fact that this relationship is so close means that academies are going to be put under increasing scrutiny by those opposed to autonomous schools – and any financial misdemeanors will be blown up by the press. This will only increase the call for a “middle tier” of academy school regulation that sits between schools at the local level and the Department of Education / Education Funding Agency on a national level, which the Education Secretary has so far been resistant to.