Academies

Call for watchdog to investigate academy CEO training contract

Leadership training providers write to Competitions and Markets Authority over National Institute of Teaching contract

Leadership training providers write to Competitions and Markets Authority over National Institute of Teaching contract

Exclusive

Leadership training providers have demanded an investigation after the government handed a contract for its academy trust chief executive training to the flagship National Institute of Teaching (NIoT).

The Department for Education ditched a competitive tender to give the contract directly to the School-Led Development Trust (SLDT), which runs NIoT and was founded by four leading multi-academy trusts.

Ministers promised to launch a programme to ensure trusts have enough “highly effective leaders” as part of its 2022 schools white paper.

While NIoT’s contract value has not yet been confirmed, the original tender was expected to be about £2.8 million.

The first cohort of 25 participants will start in February next year – later than initially planned – with a second 50-strong cohort “following later”. Recruitment will begin in autumn.

But three leadership training providers have written to the Competitions and Markets Authority warning their work “is now at serious risk”.

Contract awarded ‘without competitive tender’

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the school leaders’ union ASCL, Alice Gregson, the executive director of Forum Strategy and Ann Palmer, the chief executive of Fig Tree International, said the case “merits a review”.

This was in “the interests of competition law” and “culture of transparency in the awarding of public contracts”, a letter sent to the watchdog and seen by Schools Week states.

They point out the contract was awarded “without competitive tender and will, we believe, result in the body being provided with significant government funding that will make it extremely challenging for other existing providers to compete on cost and therefore also quality”.

The trust CEOs behind the National Institute of Teaching

They claim the situation will “over time significantly hamper the ability of academy trust leaders to make a genuine choice that takes into account both cost and quality” of various leadership schemes.

“If there is preferential treatment of one provider over others by government, it will be highly detrimental to the sector in the long run and to a culture of healthy choice and competition between providers that keeps academy trust leaders in the driving seat in terms of what they wish to access.”

The DfE ran a market engagement exercise for potential suppliers last year. But it will instead use the existing framework agreement for NIoT and contract the SLDT – founded by Star Academies, the Harris Federation, Outwood Grange Academies Trust and Oasis.

DfE ‘confident’ it met legal requirements

The DfE said this was part of NIoT’s “overall scope of requirements to deliver the golden thread of teacher and leadership development in the education sector”. Existing frameworks should also be used “wherever possible” to help with costs.

The department said it was “confident” the decision was right and met “all legal requirements”.

But Barton said school leaders “will suspect that there is a hidden agenda – to establish a group of government-approved system leaders” through a “top-down approach”.

NIoT said training includds one-to-one coaching with a “successful” CEO, alongside “immersive learning” such as shadowing. Its founding CEOs have an “impressive track record of nurturing future” bosses, it added.

An email from DfE, seen by Schools Week, also states there will “likely be sub-contracting opportunities”.

Initial contract documents said roll-out would begin this September. But this was pushed back as market feedback advised more time would be required to design content, the DfE said.

Melanie Renowden, the chief executive of NIoT, said it needed “to develop the next generation of courageous, pioneering people who will respond to the new wave of challenges and opportunities that are coming the way of all our schools”.

The government is also facing a high court challenge over its funding of curriculum quango Oak National Academy. Bodies representing publishers and ed tech firms say Oak “poses an existential risk to the future viability of the sector”.

Latest education roles from

Electrical Installation Trainer

Electrical Installation Trainer

Barnsley College

Sessional Science Lab Technician

Sessional Science Lab Technician

Merton College

Sessional Lecturer – Plumbing

Sessional Lecturer – Plumbing

South Thames College

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

Haberdashers’ Academies Trust South

Chief Executive Officer Cornwall Education Learning Trust (CELT)

Chief Executive Officer Cornwall Education Learning Trust (CELT)

Satis Education

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Ark Greenwich Free School

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, schools and colleges can be confident that learners...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspire creativity in your classroom. Sky Arts’ Access All Arts week is back!

Now in its third year, Access All Arts week is a nationwide celebration of creativity for primary schools (17-21...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Unleash the Power of Sport in your setting this summer! National School Sports Week is back!

Unleash the Power of Sport this summer with National School Sports Week powered by Monster Kickabout! From 17-23 June,...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Academies

DfE in court over falling rolls academy plan

High Court challenge over its decision to academise a school council planned to close amid falling rolls

Jack Dyson
Academies

MATs ‘more likely’ to be approved to run council-proposed special schools

DfE introduces expectation that bids via the 'free school presumption route' demonstrate 'resilience' in face of falling rolls and...

Jack Dyson
Academies

Regional directors push growing MATs to mentors

Bosses of trusts wanting to expand are now being told by regional directors to get mentoring from experienced CEOs

Jack Dyson
Academies

Regional director’s merger mission after ‘landgrabs’

Academy commissioner reveals 'countless' merger discussions with CEOs, as he defends DfE's 'coasting' policy

Jack Dyson

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *