A Panorama exposé about corruption in schools is just the tip of the iceberg

On 10 September, a hard-hitting investigation by the BBC‘s Panorama exposed the shocking scandal of school academies. It found that pupils are paying the price as some individuals profit from companies that now run thousands of UK schools. It was a brilliant exposé, but it only showed the tip of the iceberg. The Canary reports.

Panorama focused on two MATs: Bright Tribe Trust and Wakefield City Academy Trust, both privately owned and profit-driven.

The implications for pupils and teachers are terrifying. Because it found that Bright Tribe, run by Michael Dwan, had claimed vast sums of public money for vital maintenance. But although Dwan denies this, it emerged that much of the work wasn’t done. This included fire safety:

Tweet from the Fire Brigades Union :    Tonight’s BBC Panorama investigation will expose how a leading academy chain made false claims for over a million pounds of public money – including essential fire safety work that was either not completed or never done.

Tweet from Unison:    People are rightly angry after watching tonight’s on academies. Our head of education Jon Richards told the BBC: “we warned [the government] 3 years ago… alarm bells should have been ringing all the way through this process”. Catch up

Although the Panorama programme focused on Bright Tribe, this is only one academy trust of many that have engaged in dubious financial activities. In August, St Neots Learning Partnership in Cambridgeshire was also questioned about “potential conflicts of interest in recruiting staff” and “ineffective financial management and governance”.

In light of the Panorama exposé, UNISON and many others have demanded change. Labour’s shadow education secretary has promised to end “this malpractice”. Labour has also now called for an “urgent and independent inquiry” following these revelations.

Angela Rayner told Schools Week that the allegations raised by Panorama: “raise serious concerns about accountability to governors and parents, and government oversight of taxpayers’ money…”

Read the full article  A Panorama exposé about corruption in schools is just the tip of the iceberg

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. jane

    These are just the financial issues I recorded so far in 2018 – I do not have a comprehensive list – just those I have noticed. Ark dumped schools with large debts and was allowed to take on others! Other trusts have had debts written off and quietly allowed to dump schools. Although not reported, it may well be that some trusts will take over a school because of the assets it can exploit, such as land.
    Jan-18 ARK Ark Putney £1.3 million deficit
    Jan-18 Ark £4 million in Debt
    Jan-18 ARK Reports £4 million loss
    Jan-18 EMLC Paid family member co. £1.5 million
    Jan-18 Kenton Schools MAT losing 43 staff – budget shortfall
    Jan-18 Under recruitment leads to £11 million debts
    Jan-18 Cost of free schools 3x as predicted
    Feb-18 Letter to Acad Trusts about max. Salaries
    Feb-18 Floreat Floreat Brentford Free” school closing open 2015
    Feb-18 £745 million cost of convertings schools
    Mar-18 ATT £2,52million deficit 16-17
    Mar-18 Corelli College Coop Halley Academy £1.5 million paid by Greenwich Ccl
    Mar-18 Govt writes of £7 million acad. Debts
    Mar-18 High salaries paid to some academy heads
    Apr-18 City Learning Trust bailed out with £0.5 million fromGovt
    May-18 Bright Tribe Whitehaven Academy criticism of management and finances
    May-18 Silver Birch Acad.Trust investigated over finances
    Jun-18 ARK Burlington Danes Financial problems – losing staff
    Jun-18 Perry Beeches Deficit of £1.5 million, schools handed over
    Jun-18 Transforming Lives Ashlawn School Head resigns after inflated pay rise
    Jun-18 Govt spent £23 million on failed studio schools
    Jul-18 Cumbria Education Trust Whitehaven Academy new sponsor – more money
    Jul-18 Floreat Education Floreat Brentford Closed – premises & lack of money
    Jul-18 Heath Family NW Exec. Head paid over £200k trust in financial difficulties
    Jul-18 St Anthony’s Free School Closure, SM

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