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.
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 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.
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