Durand Academy criticised for potential conflicts of interest

The TES is reporting that a leading academy trust feted by politicians for its academic results was ordered to re-advertise key contracts because of potential conflicts of interest…

The National Audit Office document, published today, criticises Durand Academy Trust in south London for its “complex” structure that left it open to “perception of wrongdoing”.

The report showed that earlier this year, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) ordered the trust to re-tender contracts, including one between the trust and a PR company which is run by one of its directors.

They were also asked to look at another deal – between two companies linked to the trust for the management of leisure facilities – because the executive head of the academy, Sir Greg Martin, was also the director of one of the companies.

“No company related to Sir Greg Martin or his family members would be allowed to bid,” the NAO report said.

Durand, which this term launched its own boarding school in West Sussex, was also asked to strengthen its governance structure and bring in new governors “with experience of the boarding sector” the report said…

A spokesman for the Durand Academy Trust responded to the report claiming that its complex structure had been necessary to achieve what it had with young people.

“The EFA has been absolutely clear that the arrangements the NAO looked into have delivered ‘significant benefits for the pupils of Durand’ and were established in good faith,” he said…

More at: Durand Academy criticised for potential conflicts of interest

 

See also: Nearly half of academy trusts paid millions to ‘dubious’ contacts

 

Any reaction to these revelations about Durand Academy from the NAO. The criticism seems to be more about the structure and the potential for perceptions of wrongdoing, rather than suggesting anything inappropriate actually took place. Is it issues of disclosure and transparency where schools and trusts need to up their game? Please let us know what you think in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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Comments

  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Another story along similar lines. Nothing ever seems to be mentioned by ministers regarding this kind of thing. How weird

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Presumably ministers know that this keeps happening as their quangos do keep highlighting it. Why do/say nothing – ever?

  3. Janet2

    Complex structure has the potential to hide conflicts of interest.  For example, the Education Funding Agency and the Skills Funding Agency criticised Barnfield Federation for its complex structure when it discovered the Federation had claimed £1m for non-existent students (see link below).  Complex structure makes it more difficult to follow the money or discover which for-profit companies are linked to, and benefiting from, charitable academy trusts.

    http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2014/03/1-million-for-non-existent-students-at-barnfield-and-the-out-going-ceo-got-golden-handshake/

  4. Janet2

    @andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Not only do they seem to be doing nothing about it but they’re giving out gongs:  Sir Peter Burkett of the Barnfield Federation, knighted for “outstanding service to further education and the academy movement” and Sir Greg Martin (Durand).

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