Academies Enterprise Trust
Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) is the largest multi-sponsor of state-funded, independent academy schools in the UK.
Formed in September 2008, AET currently runs 77 schools.
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.'
AET currently provides its students with access to online learning materials and computers on a 3:4 ratio.
Champollion has acted as the AET's lobbyists since 2013.  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.
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.
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.
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.
- Ian Comfort, Group CEO; former adviser to Boris Johnson (2009-12); former COO of rival academy chain, Ark; ex-City education officer at the Corporation of London (2003-06)
Board of Trustees (2016):
- Jude Chin, chair of board. Chair of SSAT (The Schools Network). Chin had a 30-year career with KPMG, 16 years of which as a partner in the London office. Former member of the Corporation of London Education Committee.
- Father Adam Gaunt, vice chair of board
- Ian Foster, worked for 37 years in the motor industry
- Trevor Fulcher
- Jerry Glazier
- Stuart Green
- Keith Lomax
- Rupert Gather, chairman of InvestUK, which is an independent corporate finance firm
- Ricky Ricketts; also director of BT responsible for the education sector
- Lynn Aitchison
- Joan Deslandes
Former board members
- David Hoare; was drafted in to rescue AET at the start of 2014, after the academy chain was lambasted for poor standards and lavish expenses claims. Hoare is current chair of the school standards regulator, Ofsted (appointed July 2014); Hoare is ex-Bain & Company. Educated at Marlborough College, he is a Stanford alumni.
- Education Vision, AET, undated, accessed August 2014
- add APPC refs here
- Champollion PR profile 2016, Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists, accessed 29 April 2016
- Daniel Boffey,Academy chain accused of 'privatisation by stealth' over plan to outsource jobs, Guardian, 20 September 2014
- Daniel Boffey,Academy chain under fire following revelation of payments made to bosses, Guardian, 20 July 2013