“This report shows that the Government is failing to tackle problems that are endemic to the academies sector. Government has acknowledged that there is a problem with high pay in the academies sector but the proportion of trusts paying an individual member of staff in excess of £150,000 increased from 125 trusts in 2016-17 (4% of the total number of trusts) to 146 trusts (4.8%) in 2017-18.
“There has also been an increase in instances of auditors raising concerns about academy trusts’ annual accounts – up from 137 (4.5%) in 2016-17, to 177 (5.9%) in 2017-18. There has also been a rise in trusts being hit by fraud with the total lost to fraud in the academies sector increasing to over £1 million, compared to £773,894 in 2016-17.
“The DfE cannot get a proper handle on the system but this is not just poor management by government, it is a sign that the system itself cannot be run efficiently and in a way that is transparent and accountable to parents.
“While the academies programme was championed as setting schools free, this report shows that individuals schools are increasingly being pushed into joining bigger multi academy trusts in a top down process of consolidation. Not only are the wishes of schools, staff and parents frequently ignored in this, the net result is a reduction in autonomy for schools and their staff, and less accountability for parents and pupils. Figures released just last week showed the rocketing cost of transferring academies between trusts.
“A system that has resulted in money being spent on shuffling academies between different trusts, sometimes on multiple occasions, is a dysfunctional one, especially when academies themselves are struggling – the report shows that 195 academy trusts posted a deficit in 2017-18 (6.4%) compared to 185 in the previous year (5.9% per cent)
“The DfE cannot gloss over the fact that the academies project is becoming increasingly unstable and impossible to manage. Systemic problems are driving up the costs of administration and allowing money to be siphoned off into excessive salaries for unaccountable academy leaders. It is now time to abandon this failed project and return schools to a stable, democratically accountable and supportive local authority framework.”