Magazine article Public Finance

PAC Calls for Transparency from Academy Schools

Magazine article Public Finance

PAC Calls for Transparency from Academy Schools

Article excerpt

Academy schools are not "sufficiently transparent or accountable to parents and local communities," MPs have warned.

Half of all children in English state-funded schools are now educated by academy trusts, the Public Accounts Committee noted in a 23 January report.

Academies have greater freedoms than local authority-maintained schools and can set pay and conditions, determine their curriculum and are directly responsible for financial and educational performance. But the PAC said parents and local people "have to fight to obtain even basic information" about trusts, and they do not explain decisions on how they are spending public money.

Chair Meg Hillier said: "We have seen the troubling consequences of poor governance and oversight of academy trusts. Government must raise its game to ensure the failures of the past are not repeated.

"Parents and the wider community are entitled to proper access to transparent information about their local academy schools. They must have confidence that, when issues arise, robust measures are in place to deal with them."

Academies have been criticised in recent years for paying excessive salaries to senior staff.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency had tried to tackle this issue, the committee noted. In November 2017, it wrote to 29 single academies asking for justification of salaries over ?150,000. But, the committee said, this action alone would not prevent academy staff being paid excessive salaries.

The PAC also noted that Ofsted and ESFA are unable to assess the impact of funding pressures on quality of education and the outcomes schools achieve. …

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