DfE secrecy over £16m turnaround plan for supersize MAT

The Department for Education is refusing to disclose details of its £16 million turnaround plan for one of the largest academy chains in the country.  Tes reports.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency has agreed to provide up to £16.1 million to turn around the failing Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), which is comprised of 60 schools. 

But when MPs asked academies minister Lord Agnew to account for how this money was being spent or when any of it will be repaid, he refused to disclose any details.

Lucy Powell MP, the former shadow education secretary, said: “Why can’t we see that plan? If this was a local authority, this would be completely publicly available. Why isn’t it publicly available? Or available to us as a select committee?”

“I think that £16m of agreed funds, that may or may not be drawn down, but quite a lot of it has already been drawn down, should be made available for us as MPs, for local communities, for staff, for trade unions, for others to scrutinise. It’s a huge amount of money to a huge organisation.”

Ms Powell told Lord Agnew: “As you know, a group of schools that were having that problem, run by a local authority, wouldn’t be given that time, would they? It would be forced academies like that [she clicked her fingers]. There would be no turnaround time, no cash injection. 

“Yet here we have this huge multi-academy trust, which shouldn’t have been allowed to grow in the way that it was: these are lessons learnt. Well, these are nice expensive lessons to learn, aren’t they? This looks and sounds like all the lessons we’d have learnt from good local authorities in the past. No shit, Sherlock.”

Dominic Herrington, the national schools commissioner, was addressing MPs alongside Lord Agnew this morning. He said: “All I can say is that we’re holding academies to account, with warning notices, with financial notices to improve. We’ve learnt a lot of lessons. Our teams are really, really on this.

Read more DfE secrecy over £16m turnaround plan for supersize MAT

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