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Charity sponsor of 10 academies in Norfolk and Suffolk could spend £900,000 on PR agency

PUBLISHED: 14:51 02 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:19 03 February 2017

Cliff Park Ormiston Academy

Picture: James Bass

Cliff Park Ormiston Academy Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

A charity which sponsors 10 academies in Norfolk and Suffolk is looking to spend as much as £900,000 on a public relations agency.

Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT) supports 31 academies around the country, including six in Norfolk and four in Suffolk.

It has now issued a tender document for “marketing, media relations and crisis management services”, which would run for two years with an option to extend for another year, according to PR Week.

The contract would be worth an estimated £900,000, excluding VAT, and would include helping to prepare “good news stories”, it says.

The trust’s schools have hit the headlines in recent years.

In March 2015, a teaching assistant was jailed after she hacked into two pupils’ email accounts and made a bomb threat at Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey.

The same school came under fire after claims it was given unfair advance notice of inspections in 2013.

A 12-year-old girl was also taken out of classes at Ormiston Venture Academy in Gorleston in 2015 because the heels on her shoes did not match the school’s uniform policy.

Two years earlier, teachers at Ormiston Maritime Academy - in Grimsby - resigned after an investigation into claims they used the school’s IT system to send inappropriate photographs.

A spokesperson for OAT said the figure would be the “very upper limit” of the contract cost and that they currently spend £163 per month per academy on PR.

“This is to provide long term flexibility, but we do not anticipate spending this much,” they spokesperson said.

“OAT chooses to outsource elements of professional services support in this way as we are determined to get best value for money and ensure our teaching staff are able to stay focused on delivering the highest standards of education for our students.”

They said they had a “strong reputation for taking on some of the toughest challenges in education”.

Scott Lyons, joint division secretary for the Norfolk National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “We are surprised by this as the NUT has been really pleased with what Ormiston schools are doing - in particular with staff recruitment.

“We would question where this money is coming from and ask whether it should really be spent on branding.”

Do you have an education story? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

The trust’s schools in Norfolk and Suffolk are:

• Ormiston Victory Academy, Costessey

• City of Norwich School

• Ormiston Venture Academy, Gorleston

• Edward Worlledge Ormiston Academy, Great Yarmouth

• Ormiston Herman Academy, Gorleston

• Cliff Park Ormiston Academy, Gorleston

• Ormiston Denes Academy, Lowestoft

• Ormiston Endeavour Academy, Ipswich

• Stoke High School, Ipswich

• Ormiston Sudbury Academy, Sudbury

9 comments

  • That's one charity that The Charity Commission should conduct a big-time audit and investigation on in short order. Even if everything appears to be "above board" the proposal to waste 900 grand on a public relations series of adverts is, or rather should be unbelievable.

    Report this comment

    koenig

    Thursday, February 2, 2017

  • Which Dame would that be Muddy?

    Report this comment

    MyOwnViews

    Thursday, February 2, 2017

  • Dear oh dear oh dear. What an scandal. This Ormiston charity is a handful of schools run from all over the country. How can such a waste of money be justified?

    Report this comment

    Johnboy

    Thursday, February 2, 2017

  • £900,000 to make the bad look good and bullup whatever is ok , the dame and her cronies need to get their priorities right and just focus on education !! Not propoganda !!

    Report this comment

    Muddy

    Thursday, February 2, 2017

  • joe_orton i agree, its a business not charity, and education should not be run like one. going to back fire in the future for sure.

    Report this comment

    calmudownboy

    Thursday, February 2, 2017

  • An amount within Striking distance of £1 million, just to ensure to the public, that the bad look good and the good look better !!

    Report this comment

    Lover of Norfolk

    Thursday, February 2, 2017

  • Charity?? My a**e.

    Report this comment

    Joe_Orton

    Thursday, February 2, 2017

  • The Education Funding Authority's grant for Charles Darwin (aims to reach 420 pupils) came to a whopping.....£150,000 (during the pre-opening phase to cover essential pre-opening costs). A strange world eh: one academy gets a measly 150K to open a whole school in an office bock in Norwich's club land...and another thinks PR and good stories needs 6 times that amount....... If they swopped the figures and invested in proper schools in the first place they wouldn't need the massive PR expenditure.

    Report this comment

    Lise

    Thursday, February 2, 2017

  • An absolute waste of our money which should be spent on the children. It makes Norfolk LA look extremely good value re-its schools.

    Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Thursday, February 2, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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