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DfE plan to blacklist academy trustee ‘chancers’

MPs want to ensure that unscrupulous people who take advantage of the academy system 'have their comeuppance'

The Commons Public Accounts Committee

MPs want to ensure that unscrupulous people who take advantage of the academy system 'have their comeuppance'

The Department for Education is drawing up a blacklist of academy trustees who have overseen failures, MPs have heard.

Meg Hillier, chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, today raised concerns about a current lack of sanctions against people she described as “chancers” in the academy system who had acted improperly.

She asked: “Where is the naming and shaming of people who have taken taxpayers’ money, not delivered an education, not repaired a school and sometimes, allegedly, lined their own pockets?”

Her question came after Eileen Milner, chief executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency, outlined plans to create a blacklist of trustees.

She told MPs: “What we are seriously seeking to do is to uncover in a systematic way the names of people who under their watch irresponsible things happen."

'Big sanctions'

She said this would allow the DfE to "get in front of situations where they might pop up on other boards, start up businesses that could be trading in areas that we oversee and regulate, or indeed where we see instances where we are so gravely concerned that we are able to work with both the Charity Commission and the Insolvency Service to see if we can get them disqualified as directors, which is actually quite a big sanction”.

Ms Milner said it would be a public list.

Ms Hillier asked if there were any other legal powers the DfE needed “to make sure that the chancers who try to take advantage, and indeed we think have taken advantage of the system, actually have their comeuppance and actually have real sanctions against them”.

Ms Milner said she instead wanted to “test further” existing powers.

“That includes disqualification from directorships, use of things such as having insolvency attached to people’s names,” she said.

“These are things that are truly detrimental and most unattractive and if we could do some they would be quite totemic.”

However, she acknowledged that it was currently “not impossible” for someone who was banned from being a school governor from being “recycled” as the trustee of a further education college.

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