Former national schools commissioner joins AET board

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A former national schools commissioner has been appointed to the board of one of the country’s largest academy trusts.

Sir David Carter is one of three new trustees appointed by the Academies Enterprise Trust, alongside academic Professor Becky Francis who has joined in an adviser role.

Carter was national commissioner when the trust was stripped of two schools in 2017 over underperformance concerns.

The chain had grown rapidly in its early years to run 74 academies, but had to offload eight schools from December 2014 to April 2015 after government intervention. More followed over later years and the trust now has 58 academies.

David Hall, AET’s chair of trustees, said the trust is a “completely different organisation to the one it was three years ago: educationally we are starting to see the fruits of a reinvigorated approach, financially we are in good health, and in governance terms we now have robust and effective arrangements in place”.

“With the turnaround now largely complete, AET is moving into a new chapter where we move towards being recognised as a world-class organisation.”

Karen Squillino, head of the schools service for the NSPCC, and Jane Ramsey, who holds various public and private sector roles, including as an independent member of the committee of standards in public life, have also joined as trustees.

Francis, the chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, has been appointed as an adviser to the board’s education committee.

Carter, who will join in September, said having “worked closely with AET” while national schools commissioner he was “excited to be able to join the board at a time when so many of the initiatives that were being implemented before I left the DfE are now making a difference to the lives of the children being educated in the trust”.

The trust has previously said that 2020 will bring a new period of “prudent growth”. But AET has had recent struggles.

Two of its schools were handed school improvement warnings last year. The trust had been banned from taking over more schools in 2013 after it was deemed to have grown too quickly.

However, in July 2017, the government lifted a financial notice to improve issued to the trust, and it has since been removed from the ‘pause’ list to allow it to take on more primary schools.

Carter isn’t the first commissioner to join a trust’s board. Former regional schools commissioner Janet Renou joined the Ormiston Academies Trust last year as a trustee.

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  1. Philip Watson

    I served for 12 years as a school governor
    As an lea representative
    May I say the children were always
    The last to be considered in meetings
    Except when school roles were falling
    I am not surprised why wealthy parents
    Do not engage with state schools.

  2. Michael Lewis

    Science teacher for 30 years prior to retirement in 2002. In my teaching career I have seen many initiatives come and go but some are still around: ROSLA and Ofsted, to quote two examples and latterly academies. I would suggest that these initiatives are rarely run by people with any continuous experience of teaching at “the chalk face”, indeed some of them would not last five minutes in front of a class of disaffected 15 year olds. The “meddling” in education is either for political reasons or financial gain. The adherence to old 19th century model and the lip service paid to it is both retrograde and ultimately devisive . Most of the teachers I have known take the job on because they feel a commitment to make a constructive difference to young lives, unfortunately this is rapidly converted into frustration and bitterness because they feel ignored by the people who run academies like AET. Teaching staff are fully aware of any failings in the way that their school is run. Why not listen to them for a change.