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Academies Enterprise Trust (AET)

(111 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?

muminlondon Thu 23-May-13 21:41:23

prh47bridge average salaries are slightly higher for classroom teachers but lower for management grades for LA staff according to the school workforce statistics. I haven't read it in detail.

Talkinpeace Thu 23-May-13 21:47:05

I know that the trustees of a Charity may not take income from THAT charity. But they are allowed to do so through linked companies and that is most certainly what the Academy chains are doing.
They also abuse the director / non director disclosures.

At least the public sector run schools are forced (by P-P-Pickles) to disclose their spending.
This is NOT a requirement for Academies - both sponsored and free range.

and the lack of transparency is the most dangerous aspect of all .... same as it has been for corporate tax planning

prh47bridge Fri 24-May-13 00:18:38

muminlondon - I wasn't saying that salaries are the same but the differences are not huge at the moment. And at the high end, looking at the amounts paid to senior management of academy chains, some (but not all) LAs pay similar salaries.

Talkinpeace - No the trustees of a charity may not take income from a company linked to the charity if by that you mean a company wholly or partly owned by the charity. Apart from limited exceptions a trustee may not gain from their position. Any payments to trustees in the way of consultancy fees or to companies with which trustees are connected must be declared in the charity's accounts - the accounts of one academy chain include a payment to the Greater London Authority as that organisation employs one of their trustees. Some academy chains are paying consultancy fees to some trustees which are declared in their accounts. Some trustees are also directors of profit making companies owned by the academy chains but draw no income from those companies. Having been through the accounts of the various charities and companies involved in the large chains I believe that the most of the trustees receive no income at all from the charities, either directly or indirectly. In my experience this is the case for most charities, large and small. And most of the academy chain charities are independent, not "owned" or controlled by a profit making company.

I'm not sure what you mean by charities abusing the director/non director disclosures?

Academies are subject to Freedom of Information but I understand what you say about transparency. Personally I find the information published by many LAs in response to the Pickles requirements to be totally opaque. I wish all were as clear as your LA.

warwick1 Fri 24-May-13 11:35:05

prh47. CEO's of LA's and chain academies may be paid similar salaries but the turnover of a LA usually far exceeds that of an academy chain, even the larger ones. So how are these salaries justified?

prh47bridge Fri 24-May-13 12:48:57

I'm not saying they are, either for academy chains or for LAs. I am simply noting that some academy chains have a similar number of schools to some LAs and some LAs pay their Director in charge of education at a similar level to academy chain CEOs, particularly if you look at the overall package. Of course, the turnover for the education department of an LA will be similar to that for an academy chain with a similar number of schools.

Talkinpeace Fri 24-May-13 13:00:42

My problem with any and all Academy chains?
The lack of transparency over the spending of taxpayers funds
that affect our children on a day to day basis.
End of.

warwick1 Fri 24-May-13 15:33:38

prh47. Some interesting facts for you.

AET have their head office in Essex

AET CEO is noted in 2011/2012 accounts as having a salary of between £240,000 and £244,000.

AET has a total turnover of £341m for year

Total number of academies - 64

Essex County Council

Chief executive salary, £225,000

Executive Director of Schools. £182,968

Total expenditure £2,269m

Number of schools 610

Given that its all taxpayer money, which organisation gives the best value?

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sat 25-May-13 19:27:29

They took over two schools on the Isle of Wight in Sept 2011, one now in Special Measures and the other heading that way. As a parent of an extremely able child( place at med school in Sept) I am horrified at the rate of decline since they have taken over. All three of my DC went there and it was a fab school a few years ago. Very, very sad.

FAC51 Thu 30-May-13 10:39:39

The private health care for academy staff is payed for out of the academy's budget - not from AET's turnover. For a large academy this equates to the salary of up to two teachers.

Telegraph story on one of the IOW schools yesterday.

prh47bridge Thu 30-May-13 14:11:12

Happened to me at O Level (showing my age!). Spent the whole year studying a set of books for English Lit before the school realised they'd misread the syllabus, so we spent three weeks before the exams reading the correct books. Pretty well everyone at my school got a lower grade than expected that year (which in my case meant I failed).

Not making a point. Just that this story stirred up an old memory.

deadsimple Thu 30-May-13 14:45:32

That's very interesting warwick. Hopefully now that the AET have had a shot fired across their bows by the DFE they will concentrate on improving the standard of education in their academies rather than empire building.

muminlondon Sat 20-Jul-13 23:00:38

The Observer has just done a report on AET:

EvilTwins Sun 21-Jul-13 12:24:09

Makes for uncomfortable reading.

FAC51 Tue 23-Jul-13 22:35:59

This is the tip of the iceberg.

riddlesgalore Fri 26-Jul-13 12:52:57

Well I never muminlondon:

* The Observer has just done a report on AET: *

So much for being a non profit making charity. Those members on this and other threads that maintained that the AET was a lucrative business for those employed by the AET and the board members and others who also worked as consultants for the AET were obviously on the right track. It would be interesting to know what the teachers who have been defending the AET on this thread and other threads now think.

As you say FAC51, this could just be the tip of the iceberg, no wonder the AET were so keen to expand so quickly and didn't appear to worry if they were improving the schools they took over. Looks as if they were just interested in selling their services to a captive audience.

Hopefully the government will deal with them swiftly. Is it illegal, what they have been doing? Is the government now going to rescue the academies that have been taken over by the AET?

ElfHire Thu 15-Aug-13 09:20:07

I've interpreted the Q as "will the AET make this school better?"
It depends on the interpretation of "improvement," I suspect in this case that it's with regard to pupil outcomes/attainment, the short answer is, that there is no evidence that academies/academisation improve pupil performance, this is achieved through other means.
There are other measures of school improvement such as pay, some would obviously argue that academisation improves staff salaries....

prh47bridge Thu 15-Aug-13 10:56:08

I would disagree with "no evidence". There is evidence, it just isn't anywhere near conclusive.

In the UK the evidence is currently confined to the old-style academies that took over from failing schools. Whilst the picture is not uniform with some failing to improve, the overall figures suggest that academies have improved faster than other schools in their area and are now generally outperforming those schools. Of course, in order to judge this we need a study using a control group of failing schools that didn't convert to academies to see if there is any difference in performance.

Supporters of academies also point to evidence from Sweden. Whilst some dispute the Swedish evidence it seems to be generally accepted in Sweden. However, even if we accept the Swedish evidence there must be questions as to whether it applies in the UK given significant differences between the system implemented there and the UK approach.

riddlesgalore and muminlondon

The rules governing payments to trustees or companies or individuals associated with trustees are:

- the payment must be reasonable for the services provided
- the trustees must be satisfied it is in the best interests of the charity
- the trustees involved must be in a minority, i.e. the majority of trustees must not be receiving payment nor must any payment go to companies or individuals with which they are associated

The payments recorded in the Guardian article meet the third of those points - only a minority of trustees are being paid. Without knowing the nature and extent of the services provided it is impossible to tell whether or not they meet the first point. If, for example, a trustee's company were to provide IT consultancy and was paid £20k for half a days work that would clearly be unreasonable. However if the trustee's company provided 100 days IT consultancy for £20k that would be a spectacularly good deal for the charity. The regulators have access to the information needed to tell whether or not these payments breach the rules. If they do the regulator I hope the regulators will take action and demand that the trustees concerned refund the charity.

My personal view is that charities should avoid making large payments to trustees or companies or individuals associated with trustees as, even if it is all above board and represents good value for the charity, it may lead to suggestions of impropriety. Where such payments are made I think it would be wise for the charity to give more information in their accounts to make it easier for outsiders to judge the value for money of such payments - at the moment all you get is the amount of money involved, the name of the trustee and the broad nature of the service provided.

Of course, sometimes such payments are unavoidable. One trustee of an academy charity has been "exposed" by the press for large payments made to her employer. The press failed to mention that her employer is the Greater London Authority.

None of the above is intended to say that AET is beyond reproach. There isn't enough information, either in their accounts or in the Guardian article, to judge one way or the other.

teacherwith2kids Thu 15-Aug-13 11:52:50


Similar story for one of my siblings, back in the days of O-level &CSE. Small secondary, single history set, vast majority dojng doing CSE. O-level and CSE curricula had been similar up to a couple of years previously, which meant that the teacher could teach same periods of history etc to both.

Then the two syllabi diverged ....with predictable consequences for the (tiny minority of) O-level candidates....

So such errors are not a function of academisation. Someone not quite being on the ball- yes. Caused by being an academy? No.

muminlondon Thu 15-Aug-13 20:09:34


'the overall figures suggest that academies have improved faster than other schools in their area'

I agree with ElfHire - depends what you mean by improvement.

Which figures? GCSEs including equivalents? The government considers that measure easiest to 'game' - after 2014 most equivalents will be stripped out of the league tables.

And by 'faster than other schools in their area' are you talking about a percentage improvement of that benchmark? Because schools already achieving 80% pass rate will improve those results at a lower percentage rate than schools starting from 30%. And analysis has shown academies are no better than maintained schools if compared like for like:

And then there are Ebacc and other progress measures. This analysis of 2011 results shows that 'the average for academies run by major sponsors is only a quarter of maintained mainstream schools'.

If by improvement you mean Ofsted ratings - Ofsted's dataview to 31 March shows 45% of sponsored secondary academies were less than good but only 35% of LA maintained schools. And that's after about 1200 mostly 'good/outstanding' schools converted to non-sponsored academies.

muminlondon Thu 15-Aug-13 20:54:00

Chris Cook compared the chains in his 7 January 2013 FT blog. On his 'adjusted' index taking into account ethnicity, deprivation and special needs, Ark did better than Harris in 2012 GCSE resukts and much better than AET, but Westminster council performed better than Ark.

I still see no proof that academy chains are more effective than LAs. And several free schools have received support from LA advisers too according to Ofsted - Batley Grammar, Kings Science, Maharishi.

There's a list of sponsored academies here but still no 'academy sponsor' field in the performance tables that would enable you to compare the performance of chains easily.

prh47bridge Thu 15-Aug-13 22:18:47

Like I said, the evidence is inconclusive. Supporters of academies can claim academies are doing better than other schools, opponents can claim they are not. Both can quote evidence that appears to support their view. I simplified somewhat to stop my post becoming overly long but did not come down on either side of the debate.

muminlondon Thu 15-Aug-13 23:28:49

'Supporters of academies can claim academies are doing better than other schools, opponents can claim they are not'

The 'supporters' are Conservative politicians (or David Laws) who are pushing an agenda and cherry-picking evidence, or political donors who run academy chains, none of whom are likely to be sending their own children to a state school let alone a sponsored academy.

'Opponents' include parents who have no other choice and are angry that their own views are being ignored. Like the 99% at Camden junior school in Sutton and many other schools unhappy with the academy chain sponsor being imposed on their school.

prh47bridge Fri 16-Aug-13 02:12:05

That is simply not true. There are many supporters in the Blairite wing of the Labour party for a start. Supporters also include parents and teachers who are happy with the way their school has turned out after conversion. Opponents include some Conservative politicians.

Wonderstuff Fri 16-Aug-13 02:41:39

I work for AET. I think Triggs presents himself well, my BS o meter deems him to be a good bloke. He stated in the meeting (which was pre falling out with Gove) that he didn't want too expand too rapidly and risk being no better than an LEA. I haven't noticed much change since becoming an academy 2 years ago. Negative changes like reduced CAMHS staffing are related to austerity generally and not AET.

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