Trustees who are found responsible for mismanagement in multi-academy trusts should be banned from working again in the sector, according to the head of a network of academies.
Michael Pain, the chief executive of Forum Strategy, will warn today that a minority of academy trust boards and leaders have risked bringing the sector into disrepute.
He is urging the Department for Education to “take a harder line on trustees that are ultimately found to have been complicit in the mismanagement of multi-academy trusts.”
Forum Strategy runs four regional networks of academy leaders in the North and Midlands.
Mr Pain will raise concerns at the group’s annual conference today that there are individuals from failed multi-academy trusts who are still operating trusts and schools.
He said: “There needs to be a strong message here. Those people who have been found to be responsible or complicit in the mismanagement of MATs should not be allowed to govern trusts or schools again.
“If we were in the charities’ sector, some of the practices that are alleged to have taken place in this minority of MATs would result in disqualification from being a trustee or director, and so it should be in education. The DfE needs to replicate this strong position in the academies sector.”
Protecting the reputation of MATs
Mr Pain told Tes that the problem with the current system was that it did not do enough to identify individuals responsible for mismanagement in MATs.
He said this needs addressing to protect trusts and the reputation of the MAT sector.
In his speech today, he will raise concerns that the government’s emphasis on increasing the civil service’s oversight of academy trusts in recent years through regional schools commissioners' offices has come at "at the expense of a focus on bolstering oversight through high-quality trusteeship on the ground."
Mr Pain will say: “Academy trusts are multi-million-pound organisations with a responsibility – first and foremost - to serve the public; this isn’t a place for amateur governance or leadership.
“What those minority of trustees and leaders are alleged to have done undermines your ability to attract and retain talented volunteers and talented professionals who want to do the right thing, who want to build a legacy that serves children and young people well, and, of course, maintain their reputations.
“I am very concerned when I hear that there are still trustees of failed trusts who are operating or attempting to operate trusts and schools in our education system.
"The DfE should look at policy in this area and protect our trusts and the reputation of the sector from those who have undermined it once, so that they can never do so again.”
The DfE has been approached for a comment.
The annual conference will also look at how academy trusts can grow sustainably and successfully to achieve greater improvement at scale.
Speakers at the event include the chief constable of Durham Police, Professor Toby Greany of Nottingham University, and entrepreneur Kate Lester.