EXCLUSIVE: DfE ‘lost’ data raises questions re academy pledges still owing by Oasis and Lord Nash’s Future Academies

Janet Downs's picture

In October, I revealed how just over £10m of the outstanding £13m in pre-2010 academy pledges was owed by just two trusts, Harris Federation and Oasis.

Before 2010, academy sponsors were required to contribute up to £2m for capital expenditure for their academies.  In 2010, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) asked how many of these pledges were still outstanding. 

PAC was concerned not just about the amount still owing but because the Department for Education had been unable to find information about pledges for four academies:  Oasis Bristol Hengrove, Oasis Media City Salford, Pimlico Academy and Trent Velley.

This was odd because a Written Answer dated 19 November 2008 by schools minister Baroness Morgan of Drefelin provided the missing information.  I was able to find this in minutes with an internet search.   The DfE hasn’t been able to find the figures in six years. 

The Written Answer revealed:

Oasis pledged £3m in total to Bristol Hengrove and Media City UK Salford (£1,500,000 each)

Future pledged £2m for Pimlico Academy

Edu Trust (aka E-Act) pledged and paid in full £1,500,000 for Trent Valley Academy (now Gainsborough Academy)

We do not know if the £3m owed by Oasis has been paid.  If it has not, this raises the money owed by Oasis in unpaid academy pledges to £7.4m. 

Any unpaid pledge by Future Academies would be embarrassing for schools minister Lord Nash.  He and his wife set up the Future Academies trust and Lord Nash is still a director. 

Future Academies was drawn into controversy when it appointed someone with no teaching qualifications, Annaliese Briggs, to be head of the Pimlico Free School.  She quit after just a few short weeks of its first term.  Further controversy was caused when Lord Nash’s daughter was found to be teaching at Pimlico Academy as a ‘volunteer’ and developing the ‘knowledge-rich curriculum’ (much praised and promoted by the DfE) despite having had no teacher education.

It may be these pledges have been honoured.  But the DfE seems reluctant to confirm this.  I put in a Freedom of Information request on 23 October 2016.  I received no reply within the statutory 20 working days.  I am waiting for the results of an Internal Review which has yet to be acknowledged let alone answered.


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