Academy chiefs who misuse public money should face tougher sanctions, Government spending watchdog demands

Academy chiefs who misuse public money should face tougher sanctions, Government spending watchdog demands

Such episodes have been “costly to the taxpayer and damaging to children’s education”, it added.

Britain’s 3,054 academy trusts are funded by the Government, but operate free from local authority oversight and can set their own curriculum. They are responsible for nearly half of all state-funded schoolchildren.

In a report analysing the current system, the Public Accounts Committee raised concerns about a lack of transparency over how public money was spent, excessive pay packets for staff and the prevalence of so-called related-party transactions.

Nearly a quarter of academies have still not provided information on the extent of asbestos in school buildings and how risks are being managed, the paper added.

The committee called for the Department for Education’s oversight to become “more rigorous” and said governance needed to be “strengthened.”

The National Education Union also criticised the Government, saying: “From executive pay packets to related-party transactions, they are failing to prevent abuse”.

However, the Department for Education hit back, accusing the NAO of a “negative characterisation” of academies and insisting unacceptable standards were found in “the small minority of cases”.

A spokesman said:  “Academies are subject to higher levels of accountability and transparency than local authority schools. Academies must publish their annual accounts and this year we added new requirements on related party transactions.

“We have also taken steps to increase accountability by publishing lists of trusts who do not return accounts on time; and by challenging trusts who pay high executive salaries.”

Source link