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

 

The Loaded Language of the British Press

FOR the majority of the British media, the importance of presenting impartial news coverage is a key objective, but balance is now being questioned with the escalating violence in the Middle East.

As many times before, it is the reporting of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza and murders of innocent Palestinians which has come under the closest scrutiny.

The death and destruction – especially the deaths of so many children – has appeared in brutal contrast with the relatively minor impact of the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.

Moreover, Western media has been criticised for failing to cover the conflict in a fair manner and some media outlets, the BBC in particular, appear infused with a pro-Israeli bias.

Often it is down to the language used in such reports, which creates bias and distorts the view of the watcher or reader of the news.

The late Tony Benn said in his inaugural annual lecture in Bristol in 2006 that the BBC refer to the Palestinians as “Militants” but to the Israeli aggressors as the “Israeli Government”. Thus giving legitimacy to the Israeli side against the Palestinians.

Mr Benn said that in reality he believed the reverse was true.

In recent days we have seen the use of language challenged both between politicians and within the press.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron was repeatedly asked to apologise for labelling MPs who might vote against bombing in Syria as “Terrorist Sympathisers”.

It was a failed but oblique attempt to score points against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for his historical support for Hamas and the IRA.

Quite an ironic choice of language from Mr Cameron, who once called for Nelson Mandela to be hanged as a terrorist!

During the House of Commons debate on bombing Syria we also witnessed an agreement between the SNP and many Conservative and Labour MPs to refer to ISIS as Daesh. In doing so it would lock away the word Islamist, used by so many of the national press and the BBC to describe terrorist attacks.

Biased use of language, with a nakedly political motive, is clearly poisonous.

Note how the single photograph of a dead Syrian child on a Mediterranean beach in September this year reshaped the way our press reported the Syrian refugee crisis.

The public outcry at that image was so immense that our newspapers started to refer to the hapless refugees by the correct terms rather than the “swarms of migrants” favoured by David Cameron and Nigel Farage.

But sadly that didn’t last and following the Paris attacks of 13 November these self-same Syrian refugees were being labelled migrants and potential terrorists by our press.

UK tabloids like the Murdoch-owned Sun that has compared immigrants to ‘cockroaches’ recall the dark days of the Nazi media attacking those they sought to eliminate, says the UN’s human rights chief.

“The Nazi media described people their masters wanted to eliminate as rats and cockroaches,” said UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

He singled out an article by former gameshow contestant turned-commentator Katie Hopkins, published by the Sun, in which she wrote: “Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit ‘Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984’, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors.”

The comment piece was published just hours before a boat containing hundreds of displaced people capsized in the Mediterranean, killing 800.

“This type of language is clearly inflammatory and unacceptable, especially in a national newspaper. The Sun’s editors took an editorial decision to publish this article, and – if it is found in breach of the law – should be held responsible along with the author,” said Zeid.

Zeid said the Hopkins piece was by no means a one off, but rather the result of “decades of sustained and unrestrained anti-foreigner abuse, misinformation and distortion.”

“This vicious verbal assault on migrants and asylum seekers in the UK tabloid press has continued unchallenged under the law for far too long,” he said.

Like the Sun, The Daily Express was also a prime culprit, he said.

“To give just one glimpse of the scale of the problem, back in 2003 the Daily Express ran 22 negative front pages stories about asylum seekers and refugees in a single 31-day period,” he said.

“Asylum seekers and migrants have, day after day, for years on end, been linked to rape, murder, diseases such as HIV and TB, theft, and almost every conceivable crime and misdemeanour imaginable in front-page articles and two-page spreads, in cartoons, editorials, even on the sports pages of almost all the UK’s national tabloid newspapers.”

And the use of language to load news reporting is used often in domestic situations.

The British press regularly use the adjectives “Far Left”, “Hard Left” and “Loony Left” to describe Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour Party, while referring to more right wing MPs as being “Moderates”.

Never do they seek to define what the word “Moderate” means or ever refer to David Cameron or George Osborne as being “Far Right” or “Hard Right”.

What we are observing is an adjectival degradation.

Every report, coming from inside governments or institutions outside is, if it contains some form of criticism, therefore “damning”, “devastating” or “scathing”.

Warnings, which most of the time were not heeded anyhow, are “stark”, differences of opinion between politicians of the same party are “dramatic splits”, developments are “alarming” – the consumer of the media is confronted with a permanent linguistic overkill.

Ironically, official language is evolving in the opposite direction, it is becoming more sanitised, cautious, bureaucratic and politically correct.

Remember how Tony Blair and his spin doctors rebranded the Labour Party as New Labour and Blair’s Labour as he courted Rupert Murdoch and the so-called Middle England vote in the 1990s.

For marketing and propaganda purposes he even banned the use of the word “socialist” or “socialism” among his MPs.

The final irony is that almost 20 years later the word “Blairite” is now a term of abuse among most Labour Party members and commentators.

Words matter!

 

All he believes are his eyes and his eyes, they just tell him lies

blair

YOU usually only get the true measure of a person when you meet them face to face.
And so it was for me when I first interviewed erstwhile Prime Minister Tony Blair, soon after his election victory in 1997.
I had briefly met Mr Blair two years earlier in Glasgow while he was celebrating Labour’s landslide wins in the local council elections. He was triumphant, beaming and pressing flesh in every direction. The Scottish faithful loved him.
I had helped elect him and his Labour Government on 1 May 1997, thus ending 18 years of Thatcherism and Majorism and the class-ridden Tory ruination of our country.
Like millions of others I was now hopeful for a brighter and more socially equal future… after all, things could only get better!
So when, in early December I was asked by my news editor at the Sunday Sun (a North of England Sunday tabloid, not to be confused with the rag the Sun on Sunday!) if I would like to interview the new Prime Minister on his return to his Sedgefield constituency, I jumped at the chance.
On a sunny Saturday morning, armed with a hand-held tape recorder and full of questions I made my way to the Labour Club in Trimdon in County Durham.
The club was full with the local faithful and many more had gathered outside. Here was the return of the conquering hero.
Looking tall in a dark suit, white shirt and equally dark blue tie, Mr Blair addressed the audience inside the club about his hopes and plans for a New Labour Britain. It was typical political rhetoric, the type I had heard many times from other party leaders. But Blair was convincing and comfortable in the knowledge that he was among friends.
He finished to a standing ovation and began to mingle with party activists.
I approached his agent John Burton and requested a few minutes of the PM’s time for an interview which I could guarantee we would run the next day.
Ten minutes later John tapped me on the shoulder and told me Mr Blair was ready for ‘a chat’.
So I faced our new leader, introduced myself and asked him about his proposed cuts in benefits to lone parents. He noticeably winced at this first question, and in words which would not be alien to David Cameron, he said: “I think most people understand that we have got to reform the system. Because if you are spending more on benefits than you are on schools, hospitals and law and order put together, there is a problem.”
Asked if stalwarts in his constituency shared many fellow Labour MPs’ fears over benefit cuts, he became slightly more agitated.
He said: “Look, I have always said that whenever you are doing change then it is always difficult to begin with. We have got to make these reforms and I think people will accept them as changes we have to make.”
Then in words which could have come straight from Conservative Central Office he gave a stark indication that the disabled and sick would be the next to face an overhaul of their benefits.
“We spend more on disabled and incapacity benefits than we do on the entire school system in the UK,” he told me, before adding: “Benefit fraud – estimated at £4 to £5 billion a year – is enough to build 100 large hospitals.
“If we achieve these reforms then it will be a magnificent legacy that the New Labour Government has left us in a new millennium.”
We talked for another ten minutes before the Prime Minister moved away to the safety of his constituency friends.
This was my political watershed. Personally I felt my interview with Mr Blair was enlightening for many reasons.
Primarily because during the course of the conversation, Mr Blair avoided any eye contact and instead looked right through me, as if reading from an auto cue.
Secondly, because these were not the words, or message to the poorest in our society, that I was expecting from a new Labour Prime Minister. A Prime Minister charged with turning back almost two decades of Conservative pillage and division.
And finally, when all else failed, Mr Blair seemed to rely on cheap soundbites and a pre-learned script.
There was not one ounce of sincerity in anything he said.
He had lost me!
And over the next four years, the actions and policies of Mr Blair’s New Labour Government confirmed my worst fears.
While I still voted Labour in the June 2001 General Election, I had lost all confidence in this light blue successor to Thatcher or any dreams of a more socially fair country.
The events of post 9/11, Mr Blair’s unswerving support of the moronic George W Bush, the illegal invasion of Afghanistan and the lies over the justification for war against Saddam Hussein and Iraq, finally nailed it.
I felt that like many, I had been caught in a web of lies and propaganda and lost in a smokescreen of rhetoric and deceit.
The poor were poorer, the rich got richer, and the innocent victims of Blair’s wars lay charred and dead.
So by 2005, for the first time in my life I did NOT vote for any party or political leader.
That was nine years ago. Now sadly, just two weeks after the sad death of one true democratic socialist Tony Benn, I am still casting around for something and someone to believe in.
The fight for peace, social justice and the protection of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society must continue, but I don’t believe one of our major political parties now has the will to do that.