Academies Enterprise Trust (AET)

(110 Posts)
riddlesgalore Wed 13-Jun-12 11:41:10

This multiple academy trust (AET) is it seems interested in taking over the local secondary school that my children attend. They say they have a good track record of school inmprovement in other areas - is this true? Does anyone have any information?

lostinpants Wed 13-Jun-12 14:50:50
riddlesgalore Thu 14-Jun-12 13:48:28

Goodness - that isn't very encouraging.

Rosebud05 Fri 15-Jun-12 22:18:07

They have a good track record in cutting frontline teaching and support staff and paying some executive head a huge salary, but not in school improvement.

They're also planning to double their size over the next year.

How is the school doing at the moment?

Elibean Sun 17-Jun-12 18:31:03

Not a particular supporter (or detractor), but that website is bound to be negative about them, isn't it?!

I've met one of their head men, at an open afternoon discussing our local secondary (they took over there a couple of years ago). To be fair, he did seem to care passionately about children and education - I liked his values, and his passion.

My own concern is that they seem to be expanding too fast - how can they do a good job when spreading themselves so thin? confused

Rosebud05 Sun 17-Jun-12 20:06:28

AET are taking over 2 primaries near me. They're very slick and were at pains to tell staff and parents that 'nothing would change.'

In one school, they've spend hundreds of thousands of pounds restoring a bell tower, new flooring etc. Then announced that there will be 50% cut in support staff from Sept and that the 3 teachers leaving won't be replaced.

EvilTwins Mon 18-Jun-12 17:55:05

I reach in an AET academy. We made massive cuts the year before they came in, so, as a teacher, nothing much seems to have changed. I have private health care now grin. The biggest issue we have with them is that the things we seemed to be promised, in terms of financial injection, haven't materialised. They haven't changed the t&c for staff, and the training courses they've sent in have been excellent. It just feels like a bit of a damp squib though- we were expecting obvious change for the better. I don't imagine parents would be able to spot the difference at all.

riddlesgalore Tue 19-Jun-12 13:44:10

EvilTwins: How long has your school been an AET academy.

EvilTwins Tue 19-Jun-12 17:37:43

Just under a year.

warwick1 Sat 07-Jul-12 13:09:58

That really isn't long enough to find out what the impact of AET policies and changes will have on the school, students and staff. Looking at the experience of other AET acquired schools (academies), it usually takes a couple of years at least for the true impact to emerge. Scrutinise the courses they introduce, they may be superficially good for the school league results but may not be in the long term interests of the students. The mass downgrading to GCSE equivalents in other AET academies has worried both concerned parents and staff (now belately Gove). Also the impact of increased centralised management costs on budgets often appear to result in fewer experenced staff and more newly qualified. Academy chain groups do not cover all the services previously supplied by LA's, academies usually have to incur additional expenses not apparent when first 'sold the idea' of becoming an academy. Often these services are provided at a cost by the AET or their preferred suppliers!!

EvilTwins Sat 07-Jul-12 16:04:31

Warwick- AET have had no say in course changes. We, as a school, have introduced new GCSEs for September 2012 as a result of the changes introduced by the government. No school or academy is going to bring in a glut of equivalence courses now- they no longer count in headline figures so what in earth would be the point?

Warwick- what's your involvement with AET? You are very negative about them. I am keeping an open mind at the moment. So far, their involvement in our school has been minimal. They certainly haven't made any staff cuts, and have no part in recruitment.

warwick1 Mon 09-Jul-12 16:29:39

I agree EvilTwins, I think the lesson to be learnt is that academy chains are brought in to provide a quick fix, the question is given the cost to the tax payer, who benefits. Light regulation is the buzz word for academy chains, but where have we heard that recently!!!

Chain academy groups led the way in introducing GCSE equivalents (as they did with modular courses with multiple repeats inc A Levels), providing an almost immediate boost to their academies in the league tables, as a result they were handed even more academies to manage. Chain academy groups are as a result becoming very lucrative businesses.

I agree, EvilTwins, it will also be interesting to watch the league table results of these academies and schools fall after 2014 as a consequence of Gove's current changes when equivalents are no longer counted. The average % drop in 2011 *A-C (inc maths and Eng) results, when equivalents were not counted in schools was 6%, in academies, particularly chain groups it was 10%. As you are particularly interested in the AET, check their 2011 results when equivalents were not counted. You will see their results dropped even more in most of the academies they managed, as a consequence of relying to much on GCSE equivalent courses. I would ask, how did students actually benefit from these 'equivalent GCSE's'? After all chain groups were given academies in order to improve student education!!!

What concerns me about academy chains, is what means given the light regulation and apparent unaccountability, will they use in the future to build superficial performance improvements.

These chains, having persuaded many schools to become academies under their management by boasting about the 'performance improvements' and 'exam result enhancements' they can bring about, will need to innovate to meet these expectations. Will these innovations be for the benefit of their students any more than the now exposed exam results hype and course selections have been in the past.

Those parents who live in the catchment area of a 'converter' academy as opposed to those parents who live in the catchment area of a 'chain' academy, at least know that decisions are made 'freely' in house, without having to follow the strategies and policies of the trust's board and that the school governors are also not 'directed' by this remote board. As you say EvilTwins, your school had massive cuts the year before the chain group came in, saving them the trouble no doubt. Chain groups are often in discussion with the DFE and the LA well before they take over a school. I would suggest EvilTwins that it will take a while before the true costs and benefits become obvious, hopefully your school will get good value for money.

EvilTwins Mon 09-Jul-12 17:36:09

Warwick- I hope so too. As I said, we've been with AET just about a year. However, we've been teaching BTECs since 2004 so that doesn't follow the pattern of academy chains pushing them. I believe that BTECs and other equivalents have been around for an awful lot longer than the idea of academy chains- I taught GNVQ in a school between 2000 and 2004, for example.

It remains to be seen what the long-term impact will be. My school was in dire straights in some ways and we'd been told that we had to academise in order to guarantee our future. AET were, I expect, waiting in the wings to rush in and save us!

Dawntreader Wed 18-Jul-12 00:56:23

Warwick where is your evidence that academy chains introduce equivalents to GCSEs? My understanding is that academies taking over weak or underperforming schools tend to inherit poor curriculums and over reliance on low value equiv qualifications. The question is how long it takes them to strengthen and broaden the teaching range an standards so that te can offer a better choice of high value GCSEs. But I don't think it's right to penalise chains that have taken on the task of turning around some of the toughest schools by judging them against a national average that by definition starts with a higher base line, better qualified teachers (crucially that start with higer morale as well as experience).

warwick1 Thu 19-Jul-12 17:18:59

Dawntreader - You might like to check the report from the National Leadership College on Academies for the evidence. In addition the schools that I am familiar with that were taken over by chains immediately increased the number of 'equivalents' GCSE courses (including in core subjects) and hey presto up went their results in the league tables. Unfortunately the students taking them found out eventually that local 'outstanding' colleges wouldn't accept them for A level courses even though they obtained the highest grades.

EvilTwins Thu 19-Jul-12 17:23:12

Warwick - I have to agree with Dawntreader - certainly that is my experience. As I said above, we were already doing a lot of BTEC courses when we became an academy. From September, we have reduced this, and introduced new GCSE courses. That's more to do with Gove than AET though.

warwick1 Fri 20-Jul-12 10:51:26

Yes EvilTwins, I agree, now that Gove has discounted over 3000 'equivalents' courses this year, ALL schools and academies have had to change their 'equivalents' courses to new GCSE courses, in 2014 these changes will start to impact the league table results. As the National Leadership College stated in their report, academy chains will be hit hardest by this change as they have in the past used the most 'equivalents'. This data is available in government KS4 2011 publications. The question is, as chains used these fixes previously more than most other academies and schools, will they play straight now or will they find other means to skew their results!! After all, that is what chain groups do, share knowledge and practise, good or bad. Time will tell I guess. It has taken several years to prove what was happening, I guess it will take several more years to find out if the solution works any better. Bit like tax avoidance isn't it, those in the know always find another route.

warwick1 Thu 16-May-13 14:11:59

Obviously the DFE are not so happy with the performance of the Academies Enterprise Trust as they have now barred them from taking on any more academies because they haven't improved the quality of teaching and learning in the schools that they are already managing.

The Academies Enterprise Trust is the biggest player in the field, it has grown to 64 academies, taking on 42 schools last year alone. However, only two of its schools are rated outstanding, 30 are requiring significant improvement and 18 are failing.

Elibean Thu 16-May-13 14:38:07

Our local secondary is flourishing, having been taken on by AET a couple of years ago...

Only anecdotal, of course. I'm sure the Head and staff have to take a lot of the credit, too. But still, it has come on in absolute leaps and bounds - from failing to good in two years.

Elibean Thu 16-May-13 14:38:47

But - as previous post - I think they took on far too much too fast. So slowing down and managing what they have already sounds like an excellent idea.

warwick1 Thu 16-May-13 15:23:32

Elibean: You are probably right, these chain groups take the cash and then leave local staff to get on with it, sometimes they swim, sometimes they sink. Unfortunately DFE data appears to show that more likely they sink, which begs the question why are chain groups needed in the first place. Companies like the AET appear to make good profits which probably explains the super salaries they pay themselves, but surely given the excessive profits they could afford to train academy staff so they were all 'out standing'. As it stands of the 64 academies only two are considered 'out standing', and one of those is under the old Ofsted criteria where teaching and learning only had to be 'good' to qualify for an outstanding category.

Academies Enterprise Trust (CH Reg: 06625091)Private Limited Company / Registered Charity:

Year 2011-12 – turnover £ 341M, retained Profit £ 195M

Year 2010-11 – turnover £ 128M, retained Profit £ 64M

Year 2009-10 – turnover £ 83M, retained Profit £ 44M

prh47bridge Thu 16-May-13 16:55:47

Just for clarity, AET is a charity. It therefore doesn't make a profit as such and the trustees are unpaid. It may, of course, have a surplus of income over expenditure.

christinarossetti Thu 16-May-13 17:31:33

Both of the schools taken over by AET in September 2012 in Haringey (Noel Park and Nightingale/Trinity) were found not to be making reasonable progress by Ofsted within two terms of opening, and both reports explicitly say that AET have not offered adequate support.

I think the Head and staff at the school near elibean should take all the credit by the sounds of it.

warwick1 Thu 16-May-13 18:02:16

Yes prh47. As a charity they do not pay tax and there isn't any restrictions on the salaries they pay themselves even board members can earn consultancy fees. All at taxpayers expense, not bad hey.

EvilTwins Thu 16-May-13 18:28:04

They also have a charitable trust which gives grants to students/ projects in their academies, so at least some of their profit is going back in. I teach at an AET academy and have recently received a grant for a project I'm running. One of our top sportsmen has also received a grant. Their CPD is great, and is provided free to their academies. My school is doing well, but anyone who thinks any company, AET or otherwise is going to be able to turn a failing school around in a couple of years is hopelessly naive. A school which has been through special measures has to battle with culture, potential lack of parental support/ interest, disillusioned staff, a lower intake, a lower achieving intake and (the killer) the fact that mud sticks. My school came out of SM 2 yrs ago and it's only now (ie Sept 2014) that our yr 7 intake has gone back up to where it once was. Yes, AET took on too many schools too quickly, IMO, but those expecting an academisation to have an instant effect are deluded. I'm not a fan of Gove and his antics, but so far, AET have done a good job.

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