The Mighty Quinn

Quinn

Until the local elections there was a very strong response to our “At stages in the future, people will have to account for their actions. I’m willing to answer for mine.” – Frank Field story which outlined how Tom Quinn (CEO) and operations manager (Sally Mitchell) at Holy Family Catholic Academy Trust had left amid an internal investigation concerned with a black hole in the Trust’s budget totalling several hundreds of thousands of pounds.

You may recall a statement from the Diocese of Shrewsbury, which founded the Wirral-based trust, which said Quinn and Mitchell left “with the mutual consent of the trustee directors” . Quinn also served as executive headteacher at the Holy Family’s St John Plessington Catholic College.

Our interest was piqued by the fact that Quinn and Mitchell are also respectively interim chief executive and interim chief finance officer at Frank Field Education Trust. Subsequently we’ve done further research and from what we’ve found out we think this one will run and run…

At the beginning of this school year, Field’s flagship academy in Ellesmere Port – rated inadequate by OFSTED – was competing against two good-rated local schools – Whitby and The Catholic High. At that point, Quinn was Field’s acting CEO.

These schools were inspected in February and March respectively. Whitby was downgraded to ‘Requires Improvement’ and The Catholic High has not yet published (why so long?)

These would appear to be both surprise judgements at schools where progress is in line with national averages – so both expected to be ‘good’. An unexpected levelling of the playing field in favour of Frank’s new academy?

As we now know Quinn is now fully appointed.

FACT: Lead inspector in the Whitby inspection, was Erica Sharman – Tom Quinn’s deputy at Plessington.

The other Senior HMI at both inspections was a certain Will Smith – a former History teacher from Manchester.  It’s probably just a coincidence that someone with the same name sat on the Plessington Multi Academy Trust (MAT) governing board briefly in 2017-18. Probably.

However it would appear to be a definite conflict of interest in the case of Sharman – her then boss Quinn could be said to have had a direct personal interest in the downgrading of these two Ellesmere Port schools which helps clear the path for Field’s expansionist desires. After all Expanding MATs need failing local schools so it helps to have a little sway with OFSTED. Could just be a coincidence.

We can only ask whether Department of Education adviser Quinn have used his influence in OFSTED against Ellesmere Port’s maintained schools in the interests of his own academies’ ambitions? Might this show of power have secured him the full-time job at Field’s Multi-Academy Trust (MAT)? He certainly seems to have accumulated vast influence and ruthlessly culled staff . Could the recent inspections be an act of retribution against the LA? Whatever the motivation it certainly helps to clear the path for Field’s expansionist desires. Expanding MATs need failing local schools so it helps to have a little sway with OFSTED. I expect already sizing up their next targets.

Much of the correspondence we have received about Quinn – which is echoed (pun intended) in the local press uses the ‘B’ word to describe his modus operandi . For clarification the ‘B’ word is ‘Bully’ although other ‘B’ words are available . From another perspective this might be perceived as ‘outstanding leadership’.

However we know he  has ruthlessly culled staff at schools he has taken over. Lots of crushed careers  whilst he has accumulated vast influence. In other words – just another Frank Field acolyte where you have to be an ugly bully or a useful idiot.

It wouldn’t surprise us if OFSTED were in Quinn’s pocket. His model of ‘leadership and control’ is desired at the very highest political levels, where academisation of all schools is openly desired. It’s just another cabal.

Then there’s Field’s co-founder, Tory donor David Ross, about which there are serious concerns. Ross even tried to get the OFSTED top job. Because he cares so much about education? Yeah, right! These people want to own private schools, run them with public money and keep the cream.

Which leaves us wondering  where all the money went at Plessington?…Just sayin’!

 

Fieldwatch

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Frank Field and Tory Party donor David Ross are described as ‘controlling members’ of new free school – you don’t say! Pic courtesy of Schools Week

As we highlighted in our Bye, Bye, By Election! Hello, Brooklynhead Boulevard! article Birkenhead MP Frank Field’s political activities are somewhat curtailed at the moment. However we also predicted that this wouldn’t prevent Field seeking further publicity in pursuing his own political and personal agendas.

Therefore we are instigating a series of posts titled ‘Fieldwatch’ where we identify some of the MSM stories featuring Frankenfield during his self imposed political sabbatical which we find particularly interesting.

First up is this scary development ,one which surprisingly  (or perhaps ,unsurprisingly) has not appeared in the local MSM, and which was announced in Schools Week under the headline Labour MP joins millionaire Tory donor to open new free school  

Veteran Labour politician Frank Field and high-profile Tory donor David Ross have been granted permission to jointly open a free school with a view to taking control of some existing schools later this year.

The Frank Field Education Trust is the brainchild of the MP for Birkenhead, and Ross, the millionaire founder of Carphone Warehouse, who chairs the New Schools Network.

Initially called The Cathedral Academies Trust, Field’s chain was approved as an academy sponsor in 2016, but changed its name in April to acknowledge that “most people referred to it as Frank Field’s Trust”.

Frank’s long-term commitment to resolving social inequality remains a key focus, and the aims of the trust transcend any political interests

Documents show the government has cleared the trust to open the Liverpool Free School, though it is not known where and when the school will start accepting pupils.

The chain has also expressed its desire to take control of a number of existing “outstanding” schools later this academic year.

The news follows Field’s decision on August 30 to resign from the Labour Party whip, meaning he is no longer required to vote with the party in Parliament. He quit in protest over Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of Labour’s ongoing antisemitism crisis.

Although this is quite possibly one of the most frightening things we’ve ever read we did guffaw at the lines about the aims of the trust transcending any political interests – yeah right ! – and of course most people would refer to the academy sponsor as ‘Frank Field’s Trust ‘ because ultimately it would appear to be an ideologically driven vanity project.

Could it be that the local MSM who are in thrall to Field have been reluctant to cover this story as it is reminiscent as of an embarrassing episode from July 2009. As Field wrote on his blog at the time he was as an enthusiastic supporter of plans to establish a ‘Birkenhead Boys’ Academy’

I was in Birkenhead Park at a press conference with David Hughes. David is a local boy who has made good, big time.

He is the sponsor of the new Academy that will replace two of Birkenhead’s schools.

David is very clear that the new Academy will produce an education which is technically based and prepares young people for highly paid skilled jobs.

He is also fanatical about the school being sports-based and being open for business for the local area for sixteen hours a day, 52 weeks of the year.

We will now have our work cut out in getting all the plans in place so the Academy opens next summer. A spanking new school needs to be built.

Read full blog post here : Academy is opportunity to address needs of young people

Unfortunately plans came unstuck a month later when the following information about the lead sponsor of the Birkenhead Boys Academy was revealed by the Times Educational Supplement (TES) :

A businessman who failed to pay a fine of more than  £1 million has been appointed as the lead sponsor of a new academy in the Wirral, raising further concerns over England’s academies programme.

David Hughes, who has been named as the main backer of Birkenhead Boys’ Academy in the Wirral, was involved in a price-fixing scandal when he ran the Allsports chain of sport shops.

Mr Hughes’s company was fined £1.35 million in 2003 by the Office of Fair Trading for participating in a cartel that agreed to sell replica football shirts at set prices.

Following an appeal by the company, the fine was increased to £1.42 million because of Mr Hughes’s failure to co-operate with the original investigation.

Allsports did not pay the fine and two years later the company fell into administration. Mr Hughes, a multimillionaire, also ran a property business, which went into administration this year. The entrepreneur was named as the lead sponsor for one of two new academies planned for Birkenhead last month.

Read full story here : Sponsor has £1m in unpaid fines

 

Even his close political allies at Wirral Council weren’t prepared to indulge Frankenfield’s fantasies after this particularly spectacular failure of due diligence, which is just as well as the thought of a ‘spanking new school’ endorsed by the Birkenhead MP  doesn’t bear thinking about. We just hope Field has done his background checks on another sports retailer who he hopes to court and fete. As was reported last week Field is currently wanting to meet with Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley and negotiate for the House of Fraser store in moribund Birkenhead Precinct to remain open. Read here 

Mr Ashley is most certainly a colourful character about whom it was alleged that at a business management meeting he drank 12 pints with vodka chasers and vomited into a pub fireplace. So that promises to be an interesting meeting! More significantly Ashley has  been repeatedly severely criticised over his business, employment and financial practices . Read here and here

Isn’t it curious how selective Field is in his public criticism of certain businessmen? Compare and contrast above with his repeated (if justified) criticism of ‘Sir’ Philip Green. Can you imagine the feigned outrage if anyone suggested that there was even a whiff of  anti- you-know-what involved?

All we will say is that with the Labour Party Conference coming up in Liverpool next week and Jeremy Corbyn addressing the faithful at the Pier Head over the weekend that Field is going to have to go some with his MSM mates if he’s to upstage his potential political nemesis.