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 #Panorama 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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