The trust behind UK's controversial academy schools seeks PR agency

The church organisation that is behind a raft of the UK's controversial academy schools is seeking PR support as it plans to gain control of further UK schools.

Michael Gove: invited all schools to become academies (Leo Wilkinson)
Michael Gove: invited all schools to become academies (Leo Wilkinson)

The United Learning Trust is an education charity and the largest single sponsor of academies in the UK.

The trust is offering to pay £200,000 over five years to an agency to handle comms, PR and stakeholder relationships. It has no in-house comms function other than a small marketing department that oversees publications, websites and events.

United Learning Trust was formed in 2002 as a subsidiary of the United Church Schools Trust, which has been running independent schools in the UK since 1883.

The brief outlines: 'The advice would relate to all the ULT academies and UCST schools, currently 31 in total, plus central office.' The brief adds that the charity expects 'the number of schools will grow in the near future'.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has been spearheading the setting up of academies, which run their own finances and curricula, and can be managed by outside companies.

Gove has invited every school in the UK to become an academy. However, critics have claimed that they are selective of students, a move 'by the back door' towards privatisation of education, and have too much freedom over what they teach.

Evangelical Christian car dealer Sir Peter Vardy was accused of promoting the teaching of creationism in his Emmanuel Schools Foundation academies. In October 2010, the management of Vardy's schools was handed over to United Learning Trust.

Overseeing the pitch process is director of finance James Nicholson. The deadline for tender is 11 November.

No-one was available from United Learning Trust for comment at the time of going to press. An RFP document said the account will be awarded to the 'most economic' tender.

In the past week, Doncaster Council voted to turn Marshland Primary School in Moor-ends into an academy under the United Learning Trust.

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