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Statement by Michael Dwan addressing recent negative reporting

10th September 2018

Trying to make a difference – Our Support for the Bright Tribe and Adventure Learning Academy Trust

Since 2013 up until the end of 2017, Michael Dwan has been the Founding Sponsor representative for two multi-academy Trusts, Bright Tribe Trust and Adventure learning Academy Trust.

Michael was persuaded by the Department for Education (DfE) to support failing schools in some of the poorest communities in the UK. A challenge he did not undertake lightly, and always with the best of intentions. The DfE were keen for successful business people to become part of the school turnaround project and bring new ideas and solutions to succeed in school improvement where local authorities had historically struggled.

To support the much-needed rapid turnaround of these schools, some Equity Solutions Group companies were used to provide expert support and resources. This was with the full agreement of the DfE and based on clear criteria set out in the Academies Financial Handbook, which governs the financial management of academies. Connected companies to a sponsor or trustee are permitted if they can evidence that services are provided ‘at cost or less’.

Michael’s motives for involvement have unfortunately always been met with suspicion and over the last year he has personally been subjected to an on-going attack from various anti-academy action groups who have taken misleading allegations to the media.

There have been a number of independent audits completed by the Education Funding Agency and independent and audited accounts produced for the Trusts. These audits reviewed the involvement of companies connected with Michael and confirmed all support provided was provided on a cost or less basis. The accounts also clearly demonstrated significant personal donations from Michael.

Despite all of this there is still an unfounded suspicion that Michael and/or his connected companies have profited from the support they have provided. Mr Dwan has been trying to work cooperatively with the Panorama reporters to address the concerns they raise but has found their reporting tactics aggressive. Despite numerous requests, they have also been unwilling to share any supposed ‘evidence’ they have to support these claims. This has been immensely frustrating.

A Panorama programme will now be aired on Monday 10th September at 8.30pm. We are concerned that based on the reporting approach this will be unfair and unbalanced and Michael has therefore made a decision to prepare his own interview to share publicly so that the facts are clear.

Michael remains proud of the work the Equity Solutions Group companies did to support these schools. Out of 13 of these schools, 12 have all rapidly improved results including 2 schools being recognised for awards in their region. In addition, we are confident that in 2016 when we ceased our involvement with these schools, they were left in a better condition.

These amazing achievements seem to be overshadowed but shouldn’t be forgotten.

You can view Michaels interview here

Speaking in support of Michael Dwan, Kathy Kirkham, previous Deputy Director at the Education Funding Agency and former Chief Operating Officer of the Bright Tribe Trust until early 2017 said;

“Mr Dwan’s companies supported the Trust’s early development. This was crucial because the schools inherited by the Trust were in a very poor condition, not compliant to safe or legal standards and with a backlog of serious underinvestment in their school estate. We needed urgent services, yet the schools were in financial deficit.

Companies connected to Mr Dwan were able to deliver works at cost or less, meaning value for money was assured. Where the schools could not afford urgent works to make them safe, Mr Dwan as sponsor representative of the Trust provided funds and resources free of charge. Mr Dwan’s donations ran to many millions more than any payments his companies received. At the time the Trust was always satisfied that the companies provided the work to the specifications requested and we were grateful for that generous support.”

Any media enquiries relating to this post and interview should be directed to Michaela Keating, Brockwell Communications michaela.keating@brockwellcommunications.co.uk

Notes:

Michael Dwan has previously published a statement about his involvement with Bright Tribe and Adventure Learning Academy Trust via the Helping Hands Trust website, the previous sponsor of the Trusts.

You can view this HERE

 


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