Trust set up in August is on DfE approved sponsor list in September

Janet Downs's picture
The list of academy sponsors at the Department for Education (DfE) keeps growing as more and more sponsors are approved. Its most recent update (11 September 2013) now lists GEMS Education which had been missing despite bidding to run free schools.

Also on the list is BAU Foundation Mentora even though no organisation exists with this name. The DfE has combined two sponsors: BAU Foundation and Mentora Academies Trust. Neither has a website.

Both of these companies share the same trading address in Bristol*. BAU Foundation was incorporated on 7 August 2013 and Mentora Academies Trust on 14 August so neither has been in operation for more than seven weeks.  What can explain such rapid rise from incorporation to listing?

Perhaps the reason for the fast-tracking is the involvement of Dame Anna Hassan who has considerable experience in education. Dame Anna is a director* of BAU Foundation and Mentora Academies Trust. She’s also a director* of LDBS Academies Trust, the academies wing of the London Diocesan Board for Schools (LDBS). The LDBS has opened three free schools and is behind the controversial Fulham Boys School.

Two of the BAU Foundation directors are also directors of Capital Educational Services Ltd. This has the same trading address as BAU and Mentora. It was incorporated in January 2013. Again, it has no website.

According to the DfE, BAU Foundation Mentora “currently operates”in London and the South East. But it’s only been operating a few weeks, there are no websites and it trades from Bristol. It’s unclear, then, what “currently operates” actually means.

This raises several questions:

1 What criteria does the DfE use when approving sponsors?

2 How can it explain such fast tracking?

3 Is the DfE exercising due diligence when it places organisations on its sponsor list?

4 As sponsorship of academies seems to be in the gift of the DfE, how can schools, parents, pupils and taxpayers trust the DfE’s recommendations?

Perhaps these are questions for the Education Select Committee.

The list of DfE approved sponsors can be downloaded here.


*Company information from DueDil and Companies House

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