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Commenting on the speech to be made today by the Secretary of State for Education to the National Governance Association Conference on the regulation of academies and multi academy trusts, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:
“The NASUWT has raised concerns consistently about the lack of accountability of academy trusts and the often unacceptable ways in which they make use of public money.
“While the Secretary of State’s speech represents a long overdue recognition by the Government of these critical issues, it is not at all clear that the steps set out in the speech will go far enough to address the many problems that the lack of transparency in the academy sector generates.
“The extent and scale of related party transactions in some academy trusts has been nothing short of scandalous. Imposing a requirement on trusts to seek permission for such transactions is a step in the right direction, but many inappropriate deals involve sums lower than the Government’s proposed £20,000 threshold. If the public is to have confidence in the way in which taxpayers’ money is being spent, then the threshold must be set at a lower level.
“It is right for the DfE to investigate the extent to which some of the very large salaries earned by senior staff in academy trusts are paid to individuals who have no direct and sustained involvement in teaching and learning. However, true transparency will only be secured when top salaries in academy trusts are put into the public domain. Mere reporting of these salaries to the DfE will not shine a bright enough light on unacceptable practices.
“All those with power and responsibility over pupils and staff in the state education system should be held accountable for the decisions they take. It makes no sense for schools and local authorities to be subject to extensive external scrutiny while decision-makers in most academy trusts can operate without any meaningful oversight of their activities.
“The NASUWT remains clear that these profound problems will only be tackled effectively when the Government establishes clear, national criteria and standards for all organisations involved in sponsoring and providing state education.”   


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