Online academy downplays link to top Tories

Invicta National Academy changes website to list Williamson and Halfon as supporters rather than sponsors
25th January 2021, 7:10pm
John Roberts

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Online academy downplays link to top Tories

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/online-academy-downplays-link-top-tories
An Online Learning Provider Has Changes Its Website To No Longer List Gavin Williamson Or Robert Halfon As Sponsors.

An online learning provider of live lessons has changed its website to list education secretary Gavin Williamson and chair of the Commons Education Committee Robert Halfon as "supporters" rather than "sponsors", following concerns about their involvement.

Until earlier today, the Invicta National Academy had listed both Conservative MPs as "sponsors" in a list of people who it said had "given significant public, personal and financial support for the initial set-up" of the academy.

However, this now been amended this morning to describe the two politicians as supporters who have "given significant personal support, including words of encouragement and praise".

It follows controversy over a national newspaper article, which described the online academy as providing free live lessons to pupils who had been "failed by state schools".


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Invicta National Academy was set up last year in response to the Covid crisis by teacher and former lance corporal Stephen James and Anna Firth, a barrister and Conservative district councillor.

Mr James is also the founder of the Conservative Friends of Education group.

Mr Halfon tweeted his backing for the project on the back of a Mail on Sunday article and said he said he hoped the Department for Education would support it.

A must read report by @MarkHookham @DailyMailUK on extraordinary new education disruptor @InvictaAcademy run by @StephenJamesGBR @Anna_Firth educating thousands of students across England ?free of charge? interactively in Maths & English. Hope @educationgovuk supports ? pic.twitter.com/6s0Kea01kt

- Robert Halfon MP -Working Hard for Harlow- (@halfon4harlowMP) January 24, 2021

However, this led to questions on social media about the academy's links with the senior Conservative politicians because both Mr Halfon and Mr Williamson were listed as sponsors until this morning.

The Invicta National Academy's website this morning listed Gavin Williamson as a sponsor.

However, Mr Halfon told Tes today that he had no direct involvement with Invicta National Academy.

He said: "I am a supporter of it because I think it is a great idea and it looks like they are doing a great job but I am not a financial supporter. I have no contractual or financial involvement with it whatsoever."

At 9.15am today, both men were still included in a section on the academy's sponsors. However, it was then amended to refer to them as supporters.

The amended website for the Invicta National Academy now lists Gavin Williamson as a supporter rather than a sponsor.

The Department for Education and Invicta National Academy have been approached for a comment.

Invicta's website says its vision is to offer students from key stages 1 to 4 the opportunity to receive "live"  and "interactive" maths and English lessons, which will enable them to grow in confidence and catch up on missed learning owing to Covid-19.

It says it has delivered more than three million minutes of live learning.

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