Academy chain helps itself to pupil premium money

Writing in his column in the Guardian, Warwick Mansell asks if pupil premium for disadvantaged pupils should be diverted to an academy chain’s head office.

…We ask after we discovered that the south London-based Griffin Schools Trust (GST) is taking 5% of the cash it receives via the pupil premium fund for what is described variously on its schools’ websites as “GST management support”, “GST-fee” or “trust strategy”.

Such a central levy appears to be frowned on officially. An Ofsted report [pdf] on the rival E-Act chain last year criticised it for allegedly having deducted pupil premium cash before it reached schools.

Meanwhile, government guidance on pupil premium spending in non-academy schools says local authorities – the equivalent in the maintained sector to the headquarters of academy chains – should pass on all of the cash directly to schools.

A source who pointed us to the Griffin information said: “This cannot be right. To take pupil premium money away from these schools to line the coffers of this trust is abhorrent…”

The trust would not comment directly, but pointed us to a statement [pdf] that outlines how the 5% charge is spent, including contributing to arts programmes and expert teacher support, for pupils’ benefit. The cash “funds coordinated, strategic work across the trust that supports the chosen work of individual schools”, it said.

More (including details of proposed salary cuts to support staff in Durham) at: Academy chain helps itself to pupil premium money

 

Can you see any justification for an academy chain taking a cut of the pupil premium funding?

What if they are using it to pay for programmes and support dedicated to students? Is that different to an individual school choosing to spend some of the money in the same way?

Please let us know what you think in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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Categories: Academies and Policy.

Comments

  1. Julie_Cordiner

    Trusts take money from their academies’ GAG for services provided so surely they are already covering their costs? Pupil Premium must go undiluted to pupils for whom it is intended. DfE needs to address the multiple inconsistencies between academies and LA schools like this one if they are serious about fairer funding.

  2. Nairb1

    As permitted in the regulations. The allocation of the LAC funding is under the direction of the Virtual School Headtecaher, not the LA. It’s expected that the funding will be passed to schools and also that some will be retained centrally to provide services which benefit looked after children, such as centralised training for teachers and support staff.
    This doesn’t apply to pupil premium funding so the comparison isn’t appropriate.

  3. acet2001

    SchoolsImprove Academy chains seem to be rife with dodgy deals, cronyism,over inflated salaries and issues not normally linked to education

  4. PrincesBold

    SchoolsImprove Never mind closing the gap, it’s time to cut the crap. Ofsted must act to prevent this theft from disadvantaged children.

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