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Education Academies blowing money on ‘vanity projects’ rather than kids' education

ACADEMIES are squandering public money on “vanity projects,” first-class international travel, nights out and branded goods rather than educating children, teachers said over the weekend.

School bosses are wasting cash from government grants on award ceremonies and “branded biscuits” instead of much-needed resources, delegates at NASUWT’s annual conference heard.

Wendy Exton, a member of the union’s executive, told delegates of one multiacademy trust (MAT) CEO who took colleagues out on a Friday night to the cost of “£2,000, which was billed to the school.”

“Apparently, this is not financial mismanagement,” she added.

She said that one headteacher and MAT CEO had recently gone to San Diego “first-class travel, top hotels, no expense spared.”

Ms Exton added: “I’m still bemused by the vanity projects that are shoehorned into everyday school life.”

Children deserved “world-class education,” she said before demanding that funding given to academies not be diverted away from the classroom.

She said: “The fragmentation of the education system has resulted in a lack of oversight into the funding of academies and free schools.”

On academy head teachers and CEOs being paid more than the prime minister, Ms Exton said: “Before academisation, this layer of expenditure did not exist.”

She accused academies of “using” the shortage of government funds as “a justification to make redundancies or to deny cost-of-living pay rises” for teachers and school workers.

This was despite recent evidence which showed that academies are holding £2.3 billion in unspent reserves and local authorities are holding £1.7bn in reserves, she added.

Zoe Lynch, a teacher from Wolverhampton, said academies could afford branded biscuits and USB sticks while her class had to make do with a single glue stick and “beg” for any additional resources.

She asked: “Why is this money being held by the fat cats and not used to ensure we have a world-class education?”

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