Turkish tycoon still wants UK academies

The Warrriner School's farm

The Warrriner School's farm

The Turkish businessman behind a failed bid to sponsor three Banbury area schools in a multi-school academy has declared his intention to continue his commitment to break into British education.

Enver Yucel has taken out a full page advertisement in the Banbury Guardian – see page 24 – extolling the virtues of his not-for-profit Bahcesehir University in Istanbul.

He also runs a private education empire with scores of schools.

“My interest was only to bring new energy, thinking and the support of our network to the Warriner group of schools,” he said.

“The BAU group remains willing to commit its significant experience to improve the education of UK school pupils.

“However there is still work to be done to break down barriers to educational best practice.”

An academy trust, Mentora, set up in August with the BAU Foundation through a company formed by Mr Yucel and his son, had been introduced to the Warriner, Hornton and Sibford Gower schools by the Department for Education (DfE).

The schools’ governors were keen initially to pursue becoming a multi-school academy sponsored by Mr Yucel’s organisation and letters were sent out to parents.

However, following a report on a schools network blog (www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2013/12) the Warriner head, Dr Annabel Kay, announced the schools were to pull out of the plan because of concerns about ‘the pace and delivery of structures and financial systems’.

Since then the blog, started by education expert and columnist Fiona Millar, has included opinion from disaffected former staff at Bahcesehir University and supporters of Mr Yucel’s operations.

Local opponents, some parents and past parents and governors were also represented in the discussion.

Oxfordshire National Union of Teachers (NUT) has had grave doubts about the Warriner’s academy plans and about what it sees as the DfE acting as a ‘broker’ for businesses wanting to break into the UK education system and not vetting potential sponsors sufficiently well.

The Government has expressed its aim for all the country’s secondary schools to be converted to academies within two years.

The schools’ academy steering group was due to meet last week to confirm the end of the deal with Mr Yucel but the governors are understood to be contemplating investigations into other potential sponsors in the future. The school can also become a ‘stand alone’ academy – without a business, education field or faith sponsor.

The DfE describes academies as ‘publicly-funded independent schools’.

Academies do not have to follow the national curriculum and can set their own term times.

They still have to follow the same rules on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as other state schools.

Academies get money direct from the Government, not the local authority.

They’re run by a trust which employs the staff. Sponsors are responsible for improving the performance of their schools.




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