23 January 2019
Commenting on the report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee ‘Academy accounts and performance’, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
“We support sensible and proportionate measures to improve the transparency of financial reporting and ensure that parents are able to raise their concerns over the running of an academy trust. It is already a requirement that academy trusts publish their annual accounts on their website where they are easily accessible to the public. More financial information about individual schools within a trust may be helpful but any new requirement must be implemented in a way that does not significantly add to the considerable bureaucratic burden on trusts.
“There are about 7,500 academies in England and the vast majority of them are very well run and pride themselves on listening to the views of parents. The biggest problem they face is not the fine detail of financial reporting but the fact that the level of government funding to schools is completely inadequate. We support the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee that Ofsted should examine and report on whether the quality of education is being affected by the need to make savings.
“We note the committee’s concerns about the number of responses awaited to the Department for Education’s process of gathering information over how asbestos is being managed in schools. The committee suggests naming and shaming those bodies which have not responded but it would surely be more productive to understand what factors are holding up responses. The real problem is not response rates but the fact that there is no clear plan at government level over how to fund the removal of asbestos from school buildings and schools are desperately short of the money they need to finance such work.”