Monday 7 May 2018

DfE approves Village-Woodfield MAT NEU considers Judicial Review

The headteacher of The Village School, Kingsbury, told staff on Friday that the Department for Education had approved the formation of a Multi Academy Trust (MAT)  by the two schools. The MAT will come into being on September 1st 2018.

The decision follows months of campaigning and strike action by members of the National Education Union. In a press release the NEU saluted the staff at the Village School  for 'their magnificent anti-academy campaign to stop the privatisation of their flagship special school.'

The NEU announced that they are now looking at taking legal action through a Judicial Review and pledged to continue to fight academisation at every step. They said that part of the problem in Brent is that the Labour Council have 'an inadequate opposition to the loss of their schools from the Local Authority. This policy must change and we will continue our campaigning to do this.'

On a related issue the NEU has written to Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State, to express concern following  information received via  FOI requests to The Village and Woodfield over the due diligence undertaken by Mr Greg Foley who was paid as a consultant when he was also the Chair of Trustees at Woodfield School.  The NEU allege that during this time he was paid through his company School Business Strategic Services (SBSS) an average of over £7,000 a month for a period of 28 months. That fact that the school could claim 20% VAT back makes no difference to the amount SBSS was paid according to the union.

The NEU calls for an investigation by a relevant financial watchdog and has written to the DfE and Brent Council in similar terms.

The current edition of Private Eye magazine describes the financial payments outlined above with invoices totalling some £240,00 over the period, and states that the school accounts do not list the payments under 'related party transactions' (where one party has control or influence over another) as required by law.  Headteacher Kay Charles told Private Eye that the contract with SBSS had begun before Mr Foley joined the trustees and 'he took no part in decision making over its management.' She said she would raise the fact that the contract has not been listed as a related party transaction in the 2016 and 2017 accounts with the school's auditor.

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