Academies Enterprise Trust

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Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) is the largest multi-sponsor of state-funded, independent academy schools in the UK. In 2016 it was described as one of 11 ‘system leader’ academy chains in England.[1]

Formed in September 2008, AET currently runs 67 schools.

Google and AET

In 2012 AET began the transfer of email, websites and all documents over to Google’s cloud service. It adopted Google Apps for Education,[2] and soon after, bought 1,200 Google Chromebooks. According to AET 'Google Apps and Chromebooks made learning more interactive and showed students the potential of learning with technology'.[3]

Support for online education

AET's 'education vision' includes many references to online learning:' ICT will be as available as electricity and seen as another utility, which will facilitate learning in different contexts; personalised learning will be a reality with a wide ranging curriculum... We will have full service schools built around technology.'

'Our work in e-Learning is cutting edge with thousands of pages of content and lesson plans is now available to other schools and Academies via our Personalised Learning Platform eZeschools. Through the dedication of our staff we have made personalised learning a reality and it is our intention to make all resources available to our partner Academies via the Academies Enterprise Trust.'[4]

AET currently provides its students with access to online learning materials and computers on a 3:4 ratio.

Lobbyists

Champollion has acted as the AET's lobbyists since 2013. [5] The UK government's Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists shows that the firm lobbied ministers for the Trust from January until December 2015.[6]

Controversy

Privatisation by stealth

In 2014 it was reported that AET was seeking to outsource all non-teaching posts in its schools, from librarians to caretakers, to a for-profit organisation. It selected PricewaterhouseCoopers as a partner in the plan. AET wants to set up a limited liability partnership with PwC, which would be paid up to £400m of taxpayers' money over 10 years for its role, although it added that PricewaterhouseCoopers had agreed to work with it at no cost to help it review its services. In November 2014 AET ditched its plans, which needed approval from the secretary of state, and was seeking an “internal solution” instead.[7]

Conflicts of interests

In 2013, AET was discovered to have paid nearly £500,000 over three years into the private business interests of its trustees and executives. The payments were for services ranging from project management to HR consultancy, according to the academy chain's company accounts.[8]

Poor performance

AET has been criticised for its poor performance in managing schools. In a statement in 2013, the Department for Education said it was concerned about AET's performance. "DfE representatives have visited AET academies that are not making the necessary improvements," it said. In March 2013, the department said it was barring AET from taking over more schools because of concerns that its rapid expansion was hitting standards.

People

Trustees

Board of Trustees (2016)

Former Trustees/directors

Members=

Former Members

  • Rupert Gather, former chair of AET. Gether is founder chairman of InvestUK, a Mayfair-based, independent corporate finance firm that specialises in Foreign Direct Investment into the UK. Also founder of Claridge Capital, a corporate finance advisory firm. [12]

Contacts

Website: http://www.academiesenterprisetrust.org

References

  1. [http://schoolsweek.co.uk/11-academy-trusts-now-have-more-than-30-schools-and-are-labelled-system-leaders/ 11 academy trusts now have more than 30 schools and are labelled ‘system leaders’], Schools Week, 30 November 2016
  2. AET case study, Google for Education website, 2015
  3. Learn how Academies Enterprise Trust plans to save £7.7m over the next 5 years, Google for Education blogspot, 26 March 2015
  4. Education Vision, AET, undated, accessed August 2014
  5. add APPC refs here
  6. Champollion PR profile 2016, Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists, accessed 29 April 2016
  7. Daniel Boffey,Academy chain accused of 'privatisation by stealth' over plan to outsource jobs, Guardian, 20 September 2014
  8. Daniel Boffey,Academy chain under fire following revelation of payments made to bosses, Guardian, 20 July 2013
  9. Resignations leave AET board ‘struggling’, Schools Week, 27 June 2016
  10. Resignations leave AET board ‘struggling’, Schools Week, 27 June 2016
  11. Ali Jarral profile, Linkedin, accessed May 2016
  12. Rupert Gather profile, Linkedin, accessed May 2016