Multi-academy Trusts - Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:14 pm on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Lord Watson of Invergowrie Lord Watson of Invergowrie Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 3:14 pm, 10th July 2019

My Lords, the rather blithe dismissal of concerns by the Minister runs counter to the Public Accounts Committee, which reported six months ago that financial controls in schools needed to be strengthened and that,

“the Department for Education’s … oversight and intervention needs to be more rigorous”

The fact is that the Government have virtually no powers to rein in those academy trusts that are acting in a cavalier manner with public funds. I know that the Minister wrote to several academies earlier this year asking them to justify excessive salaries; can he say whether the Harris Federation was one of them? I acknowledge the good results that that trust’s schools produce, but it is the third largest trust in England and it has 11 staff earning more than £150,000 a year. Yet the largest trust, United Learning, has just one. Does that not make the Minister curious?