“Carillion Academies Trust is a fresh and innovative model of Trust that will combine educational expertise with business and commercial understanding.”
Carillion plc announcement
17 December 2013
The Department for Education (DfE) must have been impressed with this “fresh and innovative model” because it had already announced
Carillion Academies Trust was to sponsor two brand new schools in Tameside.
New schools need building, of course, and construction firms are the obvious candidates. But Carillion and the DfE make it clear the two schools will be sponsored by Carillion Academies Trust. The Trust also appears on the DfE’s list of approved sponsors.
Odd, then, that Carillion Academies Trust doesn’t appear on the Companies House register.
Academy Trusts, as the DfE makes clear, must go through a formal procedure
with the Secretary of State which leads to Companies House registration. Each Academy Trust must be a charitable company limited by guarantee. Education Secretary Michael Gove keeps reassuring us that academy trusts are charities which are subject to more accountability through the Education Funding Agency and the Charities Commission.
But it doesn’t appear as if Carillion Academies Trust is such a charity.
Carillion, a multi-million pound construction company, provides infrastructure services to schools and councils. In August 2013, a licence issued to a Carillion subsidiary, Clinicenta, to run a private hospital was revoked
following concerns for patient safety. Private Eye
(No 1347) said taxpayers had to pay £54m to buy out Clinicenta’s five year contract which had been awarded despite an earlier incident when NHS London terminated Clinicenta’s contract to provide out-of-hospital care.
In September 2013, a Carillion employee falsified test results
for water supply at a Devon school. In November 2013, the Health and Safety Executive found Carillion guilty of not complying with “simple safety measures” – the firm’s negligence
left a man permanently paralysed.
Carillion plc is one of the construction firms facing a class action in the High Court in connection with blacklisting
in the building trade.
A DfE spokesperson told me this morning it was “weird” if an academy trust existed which hadn’t been set up as a charitable company limited by guarantee. Academies had to be sponsored by properly-constituted trusts. A Companies House spokesperson told me they had no record of Carillion Academies Trust.
Yet both Carillion and the DfE say it exists.
This raises the question why the Trust isn’t formally registered. It may be the paperwork’s still in the pipeline but Companies House didn’t think this was the case. It may be the registration is under an obscure name making tracking it down difficult.
But one thing is sure – at the time of writing no charitable trust called Carillion Academies Trust appears to exist. Once again, a question is raised about the connection between academy trusts and for-profit businesses*. And a further question: why does it appear in this case the DfE is breaking its own rules to allow only charitable trusts to run academies?