Tuesday 4 March 2014


On my the thread following my Dear Mr Gove column this month, someone has written the piece below. Why aren't there questions in the House about this? Why aren't there features on BBC Radio 4 Today's programme about this? Why isn't the Labour Party taking this up?

"Under Gove's Academy programme, the land, buildings and assets of the school are transferred - at the taxpayer's expense - into the ownership of whoever runs/sponsors/owns the Academy.

At the school my nephew attends, for example, immediately it became an Academy last September a substantial chunk of the school grounds was sold to Sainsburys for a reported £21 million.

The Academy where my partner teaches is now owned and managed by two limited companies - one which operates the school itself, and the other which manages and markets school facilities to external organisations such as fitness clubs, football teams, adult education providers etc. The current head is the CEO of both companies and a LibDem councillor second in command.

What happens to all this land and assets, then, if the Academy needs to be brought back under the wing of the LEA or a new sponsor is sought?

The accounts of ARK Academies state that "excess funds" are transferred to the Cayman Islands by a stockbroker which just happens to be owned by ARK owner Stanley Fink. According to ARK's accounts, 60% of their funds are now held in the Cayman Islands where they are managed by yet another member of the ARK group, AMML. Fink says these are "underspends", but surely there shouldn't be an "underspend" in an education budget, or if there is why is this money not being returned to the taxpayer?

So, my question is, if an Academy fails what happens to the assets that it now owns, and what if they have been sold off or the money transferred overseas?

There still seems to be a perception that the Academy process is designed to "improve" education whereas it seems the deeper you dig it is little more than an under-the-counter asset transfer swindle."