Academy trusts must "change the current narrative" which portrays the growth of academies as "marketisation", the chief executive of Freedom and Autonomy for Schools – National Association has said.
Leora Cruddas said that trusts "are not businesses", and that the sector should promote academies as a "public good".
Speaking at the Fasna summer conference this morning, Cruddas said: "There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about academies as businesses.
"Trusts are certainly registered companies, but they are not businesses – the value proposition of a trust is not profit, it is the education of children."
'We're not the privatisation of education'
She went on: “The language of business, I believe, has fed straight into the hands of anti-academy rhetoric: the privatisation, the corporatisation and even the language of marketisation of education by the back door.
"We are not a market. We are not the privatisation of education by the backdoor.
"Let's return to a narrative which says first and foremost that school trusts are a public good.
"Let’s put aside the narrative of business interest, and corporate structures and markets."
Fasna has launched a consultation on redefining itself as the "sector body" for "legally autonomous independent school trusts". It has suggested changing its name to the "Confederation of School Trusts".
Cruddas said the body would "attempt to change the current narrative" about academies.
She said she wanted it to be "an effective voice in influencing policy" on behalf of trusts.
"Increasingly, we want to be the go-to body for government, the grown-up and responsible voice of the sector.”