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No improper academy benefit

Contrary to the impression given in your article, ("Cash-back for sponsors", TES, August 13 ), there is no question of any academy sponsor benefiting in an improper fashion from their investment. The payments you referred to related to specific tasks undertaken in support of project development and secured the best value for money for taxpayers. They were entirely consistent with Government accounting rules and procurement law.

All budgets for academies are scrutinised rigorously by the Department and are audited independently The involvement of sponsors in running academies is designed to capture the imagination, expertise and challenge that an external perspective can bring to schools in the most challenging areas. Ready access to relevant expertise and skills within sponsors' organisations is just one such benefit.

Sponsors come forward voluntarily because they want to play a part in transforming the education provided in disadvantaged areas. It is disappointing that you have sought to suggest otherwise. I am happy to pay tribute to their commitment to the young people in these areas. Neither they, nor we, shall be deflected from getting on with giving those children the education they deserve.

David Miliband MP

Minister for school standards Department for Educationand Skills

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