Academies Enterprise Trust: Plan to have 70 academies under their wing in 2013.

(14 Posts)
wellInever2 Thu 08-Nov-12 14:47:53

I am currently chosing a school for my son and one of the options is an academy run by the Academies Enterprise Trust chain. However I was surprised to find that they were expecting to be running up to 70 academies by 2013, and heaven knows how many in the future. My question is how can this be, I thought the idea of academies was to free them from the interference of centralised bodies e.g. LA's and LEA's. Surely these large chain groups are just replacements, these academies will still suffer from centralised interference but now those running these chains will profit handsomely from tax payers money without being accountable it appears.

Maybe someone can explain what is actually going on here. What actual benefits do these chain academy groups provide to justify the high renumeration they appear to reward themselves with. What experience have these staff got in managing large groups of schools and school improvement. Looking at their web site many staff, directors, consultants etc appear to have come from LA's, LEA's, other failing schools etc. The question to be asked is why should we accept that they are suddenly going to perform better than the supposedly failing institutions they emerged from?

EvilTwins Thu 08-Nov-12 22:37:03

I teach in an AET academy. As far as I can say, the chain itself has hardly any input.

wellInever2 Fri 09-Nov-12 15:55:59

That is interesting EvilTwins, if the AET doesn't have any input, why is the government handing over all these schools to them to manage. Is it just a get rich quick exercise with tax payers money.

EvilTwins Fri 09-Nov-12 16:53:04

There have been no changes at ground level, though I expect there is some level of involvement further up. They don't have that many schools- I don't really know why they use that as a marketing tool, to be honest because I think it puts more people off than it inspires with confidence. Also, the AET does not make money from running schools AFAIK- they have another division (consultancy, training etc) which is commercial.
As a teacher in an AET school I can't actually find anything negative to say. They have sent their training providers into school for our INSET days and they are way better than anything the LA provided.

wellInever2 Mon 07-Jan-13 16:49:23

Having researched the Academies Enterprise Trust further I found that according to latest figures they have now 64 academies.

Only 2 academies are rated 'out standing', and both were such before joining the AET. In fact Greensward Academy in Hockley which was one of the original sponsor academies only has 'good' for quality of teaching which apparently under current ofsted requirements means it would lose its out standing status. Under Ofsted, 30 AET academies are needing significant improvment and 18 are failing. Given that the trust has been in existence for 6 years I can't say I am very impressed with that record.

Other more successdul chains appear to be more cautious about expanding too quickly.

It concerns me that the AET are taking on so many academies to run when they haven't managed to improve those they already have in any meaningful way. I would hate to think that its just a profitable business, even non-profit making businesses can renumerate their executive staff extremely well, can't they.

The latest report on 'Academy Chains', from RSA and Pearsons will make interesting reading.

Elibean Mon 07-Jan-13 19:06:12

Our local secondary was taken on by AET two years ago, and has definitely improved since then.

That said, I don't think they interfere much with the day to day running of the place now - they worked with the SMT to set up some changes in structure, up the discipline, change the image etc. I hear the teaching has improved a lot too, and OFSTED has gone from bottom of the pit to 'good' on recent inspection.

I agree that hearing of huge numbers of schools being taken on doesn't inspire confidence - not sure why they use that as a mareketing tool?!? confused

It makes me worry that they will be spreading themselves too thin - but I agree with what EvilTwins has said, I don't think its all about financial gain.

muminlondon Mon 01-Apr-13 23:27:48

There was a story in the Times a few days ago about AET being 'barred' from taking on any more academies and told to focus on existing schools. There's a paywall but I found a report in the local press for the Isle of Wight, where one of its schools has gone into special measures:

onthewight.com/2013/03/30/academies-enterprise-trust-barred-by-dfe-from-taking-on-new-schools/

Some of the other schools were already in special measures when they took them over but they are apparently not improving them all quickly enough. I guess it depends a lot on the headteacher if they are that hands off, but it makes you wonder what the point of forcing schools to take on a sponsor if they aren't helping.

edgingforward Tue 09-Jul-13 11:59:48

In June 2013, after 2 years of the AET taking over the local secondary school it has now gone from 'Good' to 'Special Measures' in the latest Ofsted report. The DFE had already barred the AET from taking on more schools until they started to show some improvement in the ones they already manage, this obviously didn't help the students unfortunate enough to be caught up in the AET's latest failure.

The National Director of Education for the school sponsor The Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) who has now been parachuted in to sort the problems is quoted in the local press as saying: “My first priority is to prepare an action plan that details the steps we will be taking to improve the standard of education and lead and drive the necessary academic improvement. Isn't this what they should have done when they first took over the school? Or does the AET now have a blind, in-built, self serving corporate culture of empire building without the talent to 'build' the schools they take on so eagerly.

As WellInever2 says, What experience have these staff got in managing large groups of schools and school improvement. Looking at their web site many staff, directors, consultants etc appear to have come from LA's, LEA's, other failing schools etc. The question to be asked is why should we accept that they are suddenly going to perform better than the supposedly failing institutions they emerged from?

Looking at the AET's record they obviously haven't which is why they have presumably adopted such a hands off approach. Why should we now believe they can suddenly change and develop the talents necessary to support their academies in a meaningful way. It appears to me that AET staff mainly excel in sales and marketing, the type of skills particularly needed to convince schools and parents to buy into their particular 'business model'.

To say that these chains don't earn money out of these deals is very misleading, one look at their accounts and the executive staff salaries will indicate just how profitable it all is for them.

Some of these schools have been 'managed' by the AET for up to six years and are still considered to be inadequate and require improvement. Maybe it is time for a rethink and for the DFE to start removing them from the AET's grasp and partner them with schools/academies that actually can offer some creditable support.

I do realise that some staff employed in these academies have 'done very nicely', out of the deal with the AET, and will be reluctant to change, but surely its about what is good for the students.

anniesw Thu 11-Jul-13 00:04:54

My kids are in an AET school - the support they provide exceeds that from the LA by miles and they take less off the school budget in terms of admin costs. Most of the support is in the background - teaching specialists advising, literacy improvement programmes and the like.

anniesw Thu 11-Jul-13 00:05:10

My kids are in an AET school - the support they provide exceeds that from the LA by miles and they take less off the school budget in terms of admin costs. Most of the support is in the background - teaching specialists advising, literacy improvement programmes and the like.

warwick1 Fri 26-Jul-13 13:10:56

I was horrified to pick this link up from another thread.

Observer report on AET bosses under fire following revelation of payments made to bosses.

www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/jul/20/education-school-academies-michael-gove

I wonder, are some staff employed in the academies also benefitting by being paid as consultants or by running their own external companies to provide services to the AET or their academies. How many ex academy/AET staff have received severance/redundancy payments and are then re-inventing themselves as consultants to sell their services to the AET and/or academies?

Ilovegeorgeclooney Fri 26-Jul-13 17:38:59

A local AET school has been put into special measures and pupils were taught the wrong text for AS English Lit. Cannot employ NQT's so they are employing unqualified teachers. A concern.

EvilTwins Sat 27-Jul-13 21:00:24

warwick That's certainly not the case for teaching staff in the AET academy in which I teach. But... The IT support guy, who is fabulous, only about 21 years old, came to us as a school leaver and, three years later runs the IT in the school told me before the end of term that he is now working for AET rather than our school. They send him off to other schools to sort out IT issues. I don't know how it has affected his pay, but he hasn't been replace, which means our in-school IT support has been halved.

warwick1 Sun 28-Jul-13 11:53:43

I'm not surprised EvilTwins, it seems that it takes a couple of years before ordinary staff start becoming really aware of the changes implemented by these chain groups.

IT is one of the functions taken over by the AET in their academies. I suspect that unbeknown to most staff the AET commissioned a manpower audit and review of the academy and staff, maybe using one of their HR consultants. From this they have probably deduced that your academy requires less on site IT support, AET as with most chain groups have a centralised IT support service. Your academy probably also has or will have installed their online helpdesk software for staff to register IT problems. Of course, your academy will be paying for all this, including the project management costs, either as part of the annual service fees paid to the AET, or for licences, or as additional payments to the AET or third party suppliers for consultancy fees, and of course the training which will be needed as a result of the changes in systems. But you probably know all about that, you'll also be able to judge whether its cost effective and provides good support for the academy or whether its just a money maker for the AET.

The same exercises will probably have been undertaken at academy expense I suspect on facilities, curriculum and leadership. Academy start up cash is a good source of revenue !!!! If you haven't already found out the results of these, I'm sure you will before long.

I'm pleased that none of the staff from your academy have been bought off with centralised jobs or high salaries. Obviously integrity rules there. It appears that many academies find that most of their senior staff and governors are replaced eventually by chain group appointees, this gives the chain group total control, there is no one left to dissent or whistle blow.

Chain groups are obviously lucrative businesses, they can instigate the changes, plan the changes, source resources, implement the changes, project manage the changes, manage operations, design training, implement training, support and monitor operations and services, assess risk and prepare reports for management with future recommendations, all at the academies expense ...... then start cycle again.

Of course if anything goes wrong, all blame lies firmly with the academy - doesn't it.

At some point the money starts to run out .... then what. Chain group moves on to the next academy maybe !!!!

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