Gove pleased by Barclays’ move to back academies

BARCLAYS yesterday launched an initiative to support independent state-funded schools across the country, in a move which was welcomed by education secretary Michael Gove.

The scheme – which focuses on academies, free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools – encourages senior staff at Barclays to become school governors, provides free financial advice to the education institutions and offers internships to their pupils.

The firm has pooled £1.25m to assist those aiming to set up free schools, with free banking provided to help them in the early stages.

Academies are schools funded by the department for education rather than by local government authorities. Launched in 2000, the programme has burgeoned under the coalition government, with the number of academies increasing more than five-fold from 203 to over 1,000.

Additionally, 24 free schools were launched in 2011, with a further 71 planned to open later this year.

Michael Gove said: “I’m delighted that Barclays has read the new educational landscape so clearly and decided to make a real difference.

“Since the sixteenth century, when the first City livery companies opened schools, we have seen huge benefits when schools and businesses work together. I want a new generation of businesses to do the same in our changing schools system.”

Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays retail and business banking, added: “By providing financial awareness training and valuable work experience we can help young people to contribute to and share in future prosperity.”

Gove called on other firms to make similar investments in education.