Former academy trust chairman ‘100pc certain’ of system’s transparency
Archant Norfolk © 2013
Academies are more transparent than the local authority-maintained schools system, according to a government minister and former chairman of a Norfolk academy trust.
Lord Theodore Agnew, founding chairman of the Inspiration Trust, said the fact that trusts have to publish audited accounts made the system less opaque and more efficient.
He expressed his faith in the system following a meeting with academy trust leaders from across the East of England this week.
He said: “A modern academy structure tends to be more efficient because there is a lot more transparency, you can look up how they have spent their money. I am 100pc certain academies are more transparent than they were.
“They have to be audited and have to include not just their raw financial materials but pay of the senior people, the educational philosophy, educational attainment.”
Lord Agnew praised the transparency of the academies system last year shortly before a Schools Week investigation found that the Inspiration Trust was excused from releasing reports requested through the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, while another trust asked for documents in the same request was compelled to release them by the government.
Inspiration has also come to blows the Ofsted over judgements for its schools.
In March chief executive Dame Rachel de Souza claimed that a damning report which put Great Yarmouth Primary Academy into special measures was “simply wrong” and twisted to fit a “negative agenda”, while last May Schools Week reported that the trust earned a second visit by inspectors to Cobholm Primary in Great Yarmouth after complaining about gaps in the initial report. The school is ranked “requires improvement”.
On the topic of school funding, which was all but overlooked in the Spring Statement, Lord Agnew said: “We accept that funding is tight in the system but in Norfolk at the start of the year there will be an increase of 3pc per pupil compared to last year which is another £22m so there is money going in.
“I have been placing the emphasis on getting the money to work harder, such as national deals for schools to log into to get better purchases in their non-staff spend and a supply teacher website where fees are much more transparent. These are coming on steam and working well.”
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