MPs issue warning over academies governance

The Department for Education must strengthen its governance of school academy trusts to prevent future damage to children’s education and misuse of public money, a cross-party group of MPs has warned. A report published by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found academy trusts, which account for 7,500 schools in England educating about 3.8 million pupils, were not being held to account by the DfE when failures were identified. Academy trusts have more freedoms and responsibilities than local authority maintained schools, can determine their own curriculum, and are directly responsible for financial as well as educational performance. The committee said the department was not presenting enough financial information about academy trusts – often by grouping results for the trust as a whole – which had left parents unable to understand the position of individual schools. In the case of Whitehaven Academy in Cumbria, managed by Bright Tribe Trust, parents were forced to make freedom of information requests about the poor state of buildings at their school, to discover that improvement work they believed to be funded had not been done. Read more.