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Elliot Foundation mentioned in TES article - context and correction

This morning the Times Educational Supplement published an article under the title “Exclusive: Academy Secrets the DfE wanted to hide from you – part 1”. The article takes aim at the secrecy behind the academy programme but also implies wrongdoing on the part of the Elliot Foundation.

The real difficulty here is why the DfE ever chose to redact the Head-Teacher Board Documents that the TES journalist, Martin George asked for in the first place. By redacting a section of text concerning the Elliot Foundation, the DfE created the impression that there was something to hide.

A few points of context are required:

  • In the autumn of 2014 the Education Funding Agency in its role of principal regulator of the academy sector conducted a risk review of the Elliot Foundation Academies Trust

  • The risk review came about from a disclosure made on the trust’s website relating to founder directors who had worked for nothing to help get the charity off the ground being subsequently paid for their work from a private charitable donation whilst serving as trustees

  • During the review the Elliot Foundation commissioned an independent third party to conduct a review of governance which we published on our website

  • The EFA was satisfied that the trust had inadvertently committed a technical breach of regulations, was confident in the subsequent measures taken to correct the mistakes and expressed gratitude for the constructive and open way we had worked with them in the process

  • The matter was further disclosed in our Annual Trustees’ Report which is also available on our website

  • The Elliot Foundation has repeatedly called for greater transparency in the academy process over the years as the only way to build public confidence and as a matter of course we publish the answers to all the Freedom of Information requests we receive on our website

Factual correction

  • The TES article refers to a Head-Teacher Board discussion over the ‘sponsorship’ of Millfield Primary in Cambridgeshire. The school in question is a ‘converter academy’ rather than a ‘sponsored academy’ as can be seen here. This further undermines the implication in the article of deals done behind closed doors, as Millfield’s governors and leadership approached the Elliot Foundation and asked to join following consultations with parents and stakeholders.
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