I have been digging down on governance in academies, as I have been feeling increasingly uneasy about the whole thing--particularly with respect to accountability.
As other education policy anoraks will know, academies have a corporate structure, being charitable companies, and the Members of the Trust Board and indeed the Governors are in fact directors. Going further, the members of the Trust Board are also shareholders, and once they have been appointed, can continue as long as they like (as long as there are no transgressions), there being no lengths of term of office stipulated.
So what I want to know is what happened to good, old-fashioned governance in all this? How do we the taxpayers gain an assurance that the work and methods of the academy will be adequately scrutinised?
If you refer to the UK Corporate Governance Code 2010 (which Academies must fall under now), you will notice that one of the three basic recommendations is: "each board should have an audit committee composed of non-executive directors". When I trawled through all the academy statutory guidance, Articles of Association and draft funding agreement, etc, there is no mention made of a requirement for an academy to have an audit committee.
Interestingly enough, looking cross-sector, FE colleges and HE establishments, do all seem to have this basic committee.
So how do we scrutinise the work of our academy principals and their SLT's? Presumably, given that the gift of appointing governors (apart from the two elected governors coming from the parent body, who can never form a majority) and trustees can fairly easily and over time, fall under the control of the principal without too much difficulty, it's really down to the principal himself to self-scrutinise.
Strange sort of accountability for tax-payer money.