Ark Academy Trust – a cabal of millionaire hedge fund managers

THE Ark Academy Trust is a money-making venture run by multi-millionaire off-shore hedge fund managers.

Nationally it had an income of £21.9 million and assets of £31.3 million in the year ending August 2015 – the last year for which full accounts are available.

Its income and assets are increasing by about £2.5 million a year.

The group started 10 years ago with just one school at Burlington Danes in London – now it is a corporate monster, swallowing schools across the country.

Ark currently runs a network of 35 schools in the UK, in Birmingham, Hastings, London and Portsmouth. And it is now branching out to take over schools in India.

Why?

These are the eight people behind Ark Academy Trust… its Board of Trustees.

Philanthropists or money-makers?

 

Ian Gerald Patrick Wace – Chairman

Ian Wace is a financier and co-founder of Marshall Wace Asset Management, a London-based hedge fund.

Marshall Wace is one of Europe’s leading hedge fund institutions with circa £8billion under management. Marshall Wace Asset Management manages the award winning Eureka Fund, and Europe’s largest TMT hedge fund Eureka Interactive.

In addition, Eureka Strategic Partners provides seed capital and expertise for the launching of new hedge fund managers.

Wace was formerly global head of Equity and Derivative Trading at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell. Prior to joining Deutsche Morgan Grenfell in 1995, he worked for 11 years at SG Warburg, where he became, at the age of 25, the youngest ever director.

In 1988, he was appointed head of European Equity Sales and, in 1993, head of Proprietary Trading and in 1994 head of International Trading.

He has an estimated personal fortune of £200million.

Michael Sandall – Secretary

Micky Sandall is a well-heeled finance director based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. He joined Ark in March 2009. Prior to this he was Finance Director of the Royal Society of Medicine. He has nearly 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and was Finance Director for the Caribbean and Middle East regions of Cable and Wireless.

Sandall is involved as a finance director or secretary for nine other companies, including Ark Masters Advisers Ltd and Ark (South Africa) Limited

Paul Fraser Dunning

Paul Dunning is the Chief Executive Officer at Financial Risk Management and self-proclaimed Investment Manager. He joined the firm in 2005 from HSBC Republic Investments where he was also the Chief Executive Officer.

Dunning has also served as the CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management International.

He was a part of the team that launched the Goldman Sachs Global Currency Fund and has held senior positions for Midland Bank, Finsbury Capital Advisers, and Chemical Bank.

He is Trustee at HFSB and an affiliation with the Hedge Fund Standards Board.

Lord Stanley Fink

Baron Fink is a former hedge fund manager, the former CEO and deputy chairman of the Man Group. He currently describes himself as an Asset Manager.

He served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Man Group, a hedge fund, from 2000 to 2007.

He has been described as the “godfather” of the UK hedge fund industry and has been credited with building the Man Group up to its current status as a FTSE 100 company and the largest listed hedge fund company in the world.

In September 2008, he came out of retirement to act as the chief executive of International Standard Asset Management (ISAM) in a partnership with Lord Levy.

In January 2009 he was appointed co-treasurer of the Conservative Party.

On 18 January 2011, he was made a life peer, taking the title of Baron Fink of Northwood.

After the resignation of Peter Cruddas over a cash-for-access controversy, Lord Fink returned to the position of treasurer of the Conservative Party.

Fink previously donated £2.62million to the Conservative Party.

In February 2015 Fink was accused by Labour leader Ed Miliband as having undertaken “tax avoidance activities”.

Kevin Roy Gundle

Kevin Gundle is a founding member of Aurum Fund Management.and CEO of Aurum Funds Limited and Aurum Research, the research arm of the Aurum Group.

He is also a director of several of Aurum’s Bermuda and Irish listed offshore funds.

Gundle oversees Aurum Research Limited’s research, risk and investment processes.

In 2014 he was recognised by Hedge Funds Review with a “Lifetime Achievement” award at the European Fund of Hedge Funds Awards.

Paul Roderick Marshall

Paul Marshall is chairman and chief investment officer of Marshall Wace, one of Europe’s leading hedge fund groups. He proudly describes himself as a Hedge Fund Manager.

He is also chairman and trustee of the Education Policy Institute, an independent research institute focusing on educational outcomes.

He received a knighthood for services to education in 2016. He was previously lead non-executive board member at the Department for Education.

Funds managed by Marshall Wace have won multiple investment awards and the company has become one of the world’s leading managers of equity long/short strategies.

Marshall had a longstanding involvement with Britain’s Liberal Democrats Party. He stood for Parliament for the SDP/Liberal Alliance in Fulham in 1987.

But he left the Liberal Democrats in 2015 over their policies on the EU and their support of continuing British membership. He was a public supporter of Brexit during the referendum campaign.

Anthony Geraint Williams

Anthony Williams is a partner in Bluefield and the chairman of Bluefield Partners.

He is a financial risk management specialist and describes himself as an Asset Manager.

He was formerly a partner and managing director at Goldman Sachs where he worked for over 10 years.

During his time at Goldman Sachs, he was responsible for building the firm’s Fixed Income Arbitrage and Swaps businesses. In addition to his positions as global head of Fixed Income Arbitrage and Global co-head of Swaps, during his tenure Anthony took responsibility for managing risk across the firm’s global Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities trading activities as chairman of the Risk Committee for the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Division.

In addition to his positions as global co-head Swaps, global head of FICC Risk and Global Head of Fixed Income Arbitrage he took responsibility for managing risk across the firm’s global Fixed Income, currency and commodities trading activities.

Jennifer Moses

Jennifer Moses is an education investor, former managing director of Goldman Sachs and former adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown after being CEO of the think tank, Centreforum.

She now lives in San Francisco where she is a partner in Ed-Mentor, a VC firm that invests in education technology.

In 2009 she and her partner Ron Beller, the former chief of now-collapsed hedge fund Peloton Partners, sold their London home for £10.75million in order to relocate to the USA.

Beller and Moses are bigwigs on the finance and charity circuits.

Last June the Department for Education announced that Amanda Spielman, the chairwoman of Ofqual, would be replacing Sir Michael Wilshaw as Chief Inspector of Schools. 

Spielman has never been a teacher; her background is in corporate finance and management consultancy.

She is closely associated with the Ark Academy Trust.

And her appointment as Chief Inspector of Schools, highlights everything that is wrong with political plans to privatise our state education system.

The chairman of the Ark Schools board, Paul Marshall is the co-founder, with Ian Wace – chair of Ark’s global board – of Marshall Wace Asset Management, a big hedge fund.

Of the eight trustees of Ark Academy Trust, five are hedge fund managers – the other three have made huge amounts of money from hedge funds and city investments.  None have any background in education.

Ark is by far the most successful and influential MAT, a ‘system leader trust’ that is constantly name-checked by ministers.

If the story of the market-driven reform of public education in the USA and England.

Ark uses education methods developed by American charter schools – more specifically, by the ‘charter management organisation’ known as KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program).

Ark’s brand of ‘high quality inner city education’ is copied wholesale from KIPP.

Charter schools, publicly-funded but privately controlled, have been instrumental in the growing marketisation and privatisation of American public education since the 1990s.

KIPP was established in 1994 and supported by philanthropists like Don and Doris Fisher, the founders of Gap clothes.  It now runs 183 schools in 20 states.  The schools are typically in inner city areas, serving ‘urban minority’ children.

KIPP developed a distinctive educational model, which has become known as ‘no excuses’ schooling.

Its main features are:  an extended school day, week, and year; an intensive focus on literacy and numeracy, at the expense of other areas of the curriculum; a standardised teaching method based on direct instruction and drilling, rather than interaction between students; a highly standardised curriculum, with ‘scripted’ lessons that are tightly focused on specific test and exam content; and micromanagement of students’ behaviour, using rigidly-applied systems of positive and negative reinforcement.

This model is geared towards a single aim:  maximizing test scores while controlling costs.

The most dynamic sector of the global schools business is education technology.  The accountability systems that are reshaping public education in England and the USA are also creating new markets for tech and software companies.

The most important of these markets is, of course in testing and assessments.  Last year, the US testing industry was worth around $2.5 billion, having grown by 53% in just three years. And the business of testing is increasingly automated.

Here in England, the government’s latest test – the ‘multiplication tables check’ for 11-year-olds – is entirely on-screen. The DfE claims that the new test is ‘an exciting opportunity to explore further ways of reducing burdens on teachers through innovative use of technology in testing and assessment’.

Ark is currently developing its own data management service. Last January, the trust launched Assembly, ‘a secure cloud-based platform that connects existing school data systems’.

Ark has also been experimenting with computer-based instruction.  In 2018, the trust plans to open the Pioneer Academy, ‘a new all-through blended learning school with an emphasis on technology’.

According to the proposal submitted to the DfE, blended learning is ‘the combination of traditional class-room based teaching with online learning’.

Ark has always had tight political connections.

Paul Marshall, who last year stepped down from the DfE’s non-executive board, is a big Lib Dem donor;  he was co-editor, with David Laws, of the Orange Book, and an adviser to Nick Clegg during the Coalition (Laws, once a schools minister, recently took a job with Ark).

Lord Fink, the previous chairman of Ark Schools, is a former treasurer of the Conservative Party.

Baroness Sally Morgan, the one-time Blair aide who was chairwoman of Ofsted from 2011 to 2014, has been an adviser to the Ark board since 2005.

Sir Michael Wilshaw was Ark’s Director of Education when he was appointed Chief Inspector of Schools.

Ron Beller and Jennifer Moses have also been closely involved in Ark from the beginning.  Former Goldman Sachs executives, they co-founded the King Solomon Academy in 2007.

Beller remains chairman of governors at KSA, and a trustee of Ark Schools, while Moses sits on Ark’s global board.  Something of a political power couple in New Labour’s final years – Moses was briefly head of Gordon Brown’s Policy Unit on Financial Markets – the pair moved to California after the spectacular collapse of Beller’s hedge fund, Peloton Partners, in 2008.

In San Francisco they set up a new hedge fund, Branch Hill Capital, and ‘a new charter school organisation that will leverage technology in the classroom’.

The essential outlines of the model are clear: a lot of computer-based instruction, fewer qualified teachers and more unqualified assistants. In the same year that they set up Caliber Schools, Beller and Moses founded Ed-Mentor LLC, a venture capital firm specialising in educational technology companies.

Suggested further reading:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37432666

http://www.standard.co.uk/business/stanley-fink-tory-treasurer-hedge-fund-manager-and-charity-giver-6468533.html

 

Academies – another brick in the wall of privatisation

In the not-so-sleepy seaside resort of Hastings the parents are angry.

Not just kiss-me-quick hat or candy floss angry… they are absolutely furious.

They are waging a war against education overlords which promises to match a similar battle fought here 950 years ago.

If the parents lose, the victims won’t be Saxon warriors… but small children.

The board of governors of Castledown Primary School wants their 400 pupil school to become an academy by September 2017.

They claim the school is failing by virtue of its recent SAT results, while failing to recognise its long held excellent reputation for music and the arts.

Now parents have formed a Hands Off Castledown group to fight the plans, which many see as a backdoor to privatisation and cherry picking of elite academic pupils.

In January, Castledown formally announced its intention to join the Ark Academy Trust. But parents, teachers and local residents were only told of the decision via a letter explaining a six week consultation period. And there have been no consultations on any alternatives to Ark or academisation.

The Ark group already runs several other schools in the Hastings area. Nationally it had an income of £21.9 million and assets of £31.3 million in the year ending August 2015 – the last year for which full accounts are available.

Its income and assets are increasing by about £2.5 million a year.

Richard Sage, chairman of governors at Castledown, said the governors decided after meetings with various trusts that Ark was best for the school.

“We felt it was important to move rapidly to ensure the school is delivering the highest possible quality education for Castledown pupils as soon as possible,” he said.

Castledown is in the bottom 10% of schools for 2016 SATS exam results.

But according to Hands Off Castledown, results were poor because the 2014 curriculum was implemented two years too late. Pupils sitting the exams in 2016 had not received up-to-date teaching.

Additionally, the previous Ofsted report in 2013 marked the school as Good.

Hands Off Castledown says it has spoken to parents who removed their children from other Ark academies because of its history of imposing restrictive and regimental behaviour policies, which many believe are not suitable for young children.

On 15 February, Hastings Borough Council gave its full backing to the Hands Off Castledown campaign.

Council leader Peter Chowney put forward a motion to the full council which said: “We believe by taking schools out of local authority control, and reducing the powers and responsibilities of governing boards, educational performances are not necessarily improved and a less rewarding educational experience for students can be created through a narrower curriculum.

“There are now currently only two schools left in Hastings that have not converted to academies, and at one of these, Castledown Primary, there is now a proposal to convert this school to an academy too.

“This council therefore supports parents in their campaign to oppose the academisation of Castledown without any alternatives being presented, and calls for the current plans to be to be halted immediately so that parents, governors, staff, and other stakeholders can explore all possible options to improve standards and effectiveness of teaching at the school.”

The motion was carried unanimously.

Councillor Tania Charman even suggested the school governors should resign.

“They oversaw Castledown’s decline,” she said, “So should not decide its future.”

Campaigner Louise Hersee has delivered a petition of over 1,000 signatures to East Sussex County Council, opposing the academisation.

Hands Off Castledown is simply calling for a halt to this consultation with Ark, in order for every stakeholder group to have a proper discussion about the school’s rapid decline and then to look at all the alternative solutions available,” she said.

“This is extremely reasonable and justified.

“All over the country schools are turning into academies, and all over the country parents are wondering why this is happening.

“Here in Hastings we believe that Ark Schools is a bad fit for Castledown and that there are other options!”

Nationally, the imposition of academy status on many supposedly “failing schools” has been met with similar outrage and opposition as that currently evident in Hastings.

Many believe that academies are part of a Conservative government mantra to introduce privatisation and “grammar school type” selection on state schools.

They point to the profit margins of many academy trusts and the salaries paid to their headteachers.

One head of a primary academy chain took home a salary in excess of £200,000, after being handed a massive pay rise.

Sir Greg Martin, executive head of Durand Academy in Stockwell, south London, saw his salary rise by 56 per cent to a total of £200,822 – due to the fact he runs several schools.

He also received £28,316 in pension contributions, which took his overall remuneration package to £229,138.

Sir Greg – who is planning a boarding school in the Sussex countryside – also earned a further £160,000 from a company set up to run the school’s sports and fitness centre last year.

This is more than the Prime Minister and many city bankers.

Last year delegates at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference in Liverpool, heard that growing numbers of heads were now also earning more than the Prime Minister’s salary of £149,440 a year.

“When schools were under local council control, it would have been unthinkable as well as impossible that a headteacher, of even a group of schools, could earn more than a director of education, let alone the Secretary of State for Education, let alone the Prime Minister,” Simon Clarkson from Leicestershire told the conference.

“We need to guard against the rot of greed. Executive headteachers and headteachers have looked at their budgets and I am afraid some have decided to pay themselves excessive salaries.”

Figures showed that in 2015, a total of 41 heads were earning more than £142,000 a year.

Mr Clarkson said: “Our state schools are paid for by the public. They need to be accountable. When I started teaching, especially in the state sector, there was little or no corruption.”

He added: “Let me remind you whose money is being used to do this… ours!”

So what are academies?

  • Academies receive their funding directly from the government, rather than through local authorities like other state funded schools. They also operate independently of local authorities and the National Curriculum.
  • There are two types: converter academies (those previously with ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Ofsted grades that have converted to academy status) and sponsored academies (mostly underperforming schools converting to academy status and run by sponsors).
  • In 2016 there were around 5,200 academies open across all age groups. About 3,600 are converter academies. A further 700 are in development.
  • Evidence on the performance of academies compared to local authority schools is mixed. One analysis found little difference in GCSE performance between academies and similar local authority schools. There’s little evidence available which looks at primary schools.
  • Academies are directly accountable to the Education Secretary, while all other state-funded schools are accountable to local authorities. Both are inspected by Ofsted.
  • Academies are run by academy trusts and don’t have to follow the national curriculum and have greater freedom to set their own term times and admissions. They also have more freedom over employing unqualified teachers.

A 2014 survey of academies by the DfE found that 87% say they are now buying in services previously provided by the Local Authority from elsewhere, 55% have changed their curriculum, 8% have changed the length of their school day and 4% have changed their school terms.

In 2015, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee criticised the DfE for allowing academy chains to grow in size without independent assessments of their capacity and capability to do so.

And 17 sponsors had been formally paused from being able to expand further because of concerns over the performance of their schools by the DfE.

Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw raised concerns with the government in March 2016 regarding the performance of seven multi-academy trusts.

He said that “much more needs to be done to reduce the variation in standards between the best and worst academy trusts”.

Back on the Sussex coast, the Tory MP for Hastings and Rye, Amber Rudd, who is also the Home Secretary, has not become involved in the battle over Castledown School, although she is a known supporter of academies.

But shadow education minister Angela Rayner MP is a vociferous opponent of academies and grammar schools.

Last September, she said: “Tory academy plans are in complete chaos. 

“The impossible job the Department for Education has set itself in trying to directly run thousands of schools from Whitehall is fully exposed as we learn over half of existing academy chains have refused to take on schools and 70% of inadequate academies have been left languishing with poor academy chains.

“Forcing all schools to become academies and introducing even more disruption into the system with new grammar schools will make this situation even worse.

“The Tories need to get a hold on this once and for all or it will be our children who pay the price.”

Hands Off Castledown

They tell you the school’s not worthy

But sister they don’t care

They’ve got a new covenant

And an ark that’s going spare

 

Cain slayed his brother

Or so the Bible says

And Noah rescued animals

While wearing an Egyptian fez

It’s art for ark sake

Hands off Castledown

We don’t want mini automatons

In a world that’s falling down

 

They’ll be sacrificing the first born

So sister it’s time to care

They’re taking lambs to the slaughter

In the emperor’s new underwear

 

Cain slayed his brother

Or so the Bible says

And Noah rescued animals

While wearing an Egyptian fez

It’s art for ark sake

Hands off Castledown

We don’t want mini automatons

In a world that’s falling down

 

They tell you there’s no option

But sister you still care

They’ll try a cruel diversion

With a SATuration scare

 

Cain slayed his brother

Or so the Bible says

And Noah rescued animals

While wearing an Egyptian fez

It’s art for ark sake

Hands off Castledown

We don’t want mini automatons

In a world that’s falling down

 

The contract is worth millions

But sister you won’t care

They’ll be shooting up on anything

Because tomorrow’s never there

 

Cain slayed his brother

Or so the Bible says

And Noah rescued animals

While wearing an Egyptian fez

It’s art for ark sake

Hands off Castledown

We don’t want mini automatons

In a world that’s falling down