The defiant former headteacher of one of Michael Gove’s embattled flagship academies has claimed the school will have to be shut down if funding is taken away from the trust that runs it.
His claims come just weeks after the Education Funding Agency said it would be terminating Durand Academy Trust’s (DAT) funding agreement, amid high-profile concerns about conflicts of interest in its complex management structure.
Asked if the Durand Education Trust (DET) – the charitable foundation behind the academy – would give up ownership of the land to allow someone other than DAT to run the south London school, Sir Greg Martin said: “The answer’s no, and also we are not moving. They can’t move us.
“The only thing they can do, as far as we understand it, is distribute the children and make all teachers redundant. That’s a very, very extreme thing to do to a fairly successful school.”
The Department for Education was unable to comment on whether DET, as landowner, could prevent anyone else running the school.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with TES, Sir Greg maintained that official findings about conflicts of interest were incorrect. He was, in particular, at pains to note that his £229,000 executive head pay made him only England’s ninth highest-paid teacher.
He was also unapologetic about the extra £175,000 he received through a leisure centre on the school site, which he said was a just reward for commercial success. But he understood the controversy surrounding his pay, saying that society now harboured “bitterness and resentment” towards the well-paid.
'Victim of an establishment conspiracy'
Sir Greg believes that, after Mr Gove’s departure from the DfE, he and Durand have become victims of an establishment “conspiracy” to ruin his reputation. He singled out his criticisms of the state education system and the money he received from a private leisure centre run on the school site as reasons.
Sir Greg said that he had no regrets, apart from allowing the school to become an academy.
"I would say to other schools: do not under any circumstances become an academy. You put yourselves into the hands of unscrupulous people who are not conditioned by democratic practice and who are a law unto themselves,” he said.
In response to Sir Greg’s claims, academies minister Lord Nash said: “Following much consideration, we have advised Durand Academy Trust that we are planning to proceed with the termination of the trust’s funding agreement.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it has been done to safeguard the future education of Durand’s pupils, and to ensure public money and public assets intended for the education of children are managed effectively.”
This is an edited article from the 18 November edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week's TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here