Funding for think tanks with an interest in education policy – 2 – Civitas

The available information for Civitas’ funding is rather different from that for Policy Exchange. Whereas PX acknowledges individual funders in its reports but provides little information elsewhere, Civitas publications, if they mention funding at all, tend to have a blanket statement:

‘Civitas is financed from a variety of private sources to avoid over-reliance on any single small group of donors.’

So it is not possible to say that any particular funder has more or less connection with Civitas’ education-related publications. However, Civitas supplied a mostly anonymized list of funders for 2011 to WhoFundsYou which is available here; just over two thirds of the funding listed for that year came from the Reece Foundation in three separate donations. The Reece Foundation was founded by Alan Reece, who died in December 2012; its stated main interests are in supporting and improving education in maths, physics, and engineering.

Powerbase’s entry for Civitas is here, and Civitas lists its education-related publications here. Between them, Policy Exchange and Civitas are a very powerful force in the shaping of current educational policy. It is worth noting that Tristram Hunt has written for them in the past.

Civitas’ accounts list expenditure on various education-related activities.

The accounts for 2010 list: Curriculum Project (£7,720); Dyslexia Bursary Project (£1,293); New Model School Project (£138,191); New Model School Project (Designated Fund) (£4, 659); New Model School Bursary Project (£6, 960); Our Island Story Project (£1,376); Supplementary Schools Project (£285, 706). There was also a ‘Science and Technology Project’ (£108, 871). See p. 16 o fthese accounts for notes on the New Model School Project.

The accounts for 2011 list: Curriculum Project (£96,273); Dyslexia Bursary Project (£2,268); Girls Education Project (£1,200); Our Island Story Project (£171); Supplementary Schools Project (£356,911).

The accounts for 2012 list: Curriculum Project (£166,331); Dyslexia Bursary Project (£1,349); Girls Education Project (£1,520); Our Island Story Project (£1,800); Supplementary Schools Project (£396, 286).

NB Civitas Schools runs as a separate financial entity., and I’m awaiting clarification from Civitas of the formal relationship (or indeed whether there is one). Information on funding of Civitas Schools is here.




Funding for think tanks with an interest in education – 1 – Policy Exchange publications 2010-present

These are Policy Exchange’s education-related publications as given on their site. I have listed them most recent first.

[Edited to add:Laura McInerney pointed me to this useful summary of information about Policy Exchange, just for some context.]

I asked Jonathan Simons about transparency of funding, and he responded in a series of tweets which I’ve combined together here:

‘Any donor can give money to a report, to an event, to general, or a combination. We don’t take commissions or public cash; all our work is editorially independent and complies with charity law. Obv we’re audited every year and a/c published on web. in general, charity commission rules allow for charity doors to choose whether to be declared or not. Trustees of PX need to be assured they ‘know, the donor (money laundering) and its a legitimate donation – due diligence – and charity rules don’t allow for any donor of any charity to direct its activities. This is crawled over by auditors.’

So I take it from this that named funders on any report as listed below are not necessarily the only people to have funded it (although they might be). JS emphasises that funders are not allowed to dictate what a charitable organization such as PX does.

Of course, they’re unlikely to donate to an organization that’s doing something they don’t like…!

NB Although when I first asked Jonathan Simons about who funds Policy Exchange, he said (again via Twitter, hence truncated wording) ‘Look on the acknowledge page of reports, it’s set out there.’ I’ve found various instances where funders do not in fact seem to be named in the publication.  In those cases, unless I’ve missed a mention elsewhere, I suppose a completely anonymous funding source must be assumed.

It’s understandable for private individuals to want to remain private. And it’s no surprise if the people or organizations donating funds are mostly very wealthy – or that their wealth will tend to have been acquired through business or financial activity. But this does mean that policy is heavily influenced by organizations such as PX, which are in turn dependent upon these sets of interests for their existence. I should note that some funders appear donate to more than one think tank, sometimes across a broad political spectrum. The structural issue of anonymous funding seems to me to go deeper than party politics. It bothers me.


List of named funders

The title of each contains a link to the associated PX page, and the names or organizations given are those who appear to have contributed to the funding of each publication. They are not the authors.

Watching the Watchmen‘ Mr Krishna Rao and The J Isaacs Charitable Trust

Reversing the Widget Effect‘ Mr Krishna Rao and The J Isaacs Charitable Trust

Centres of Excellence‘ The Hadley Trust

Quality Childcare‘ The Hadley Trust

Technical Matters‘ Cambridge Assessment, the Association of Colleges and David Meller (thanked for support: not clear whether financial or other)

Competition Meets Collaboration‘ Essex Research Trust (listed in usual position given to financial supporters in PX publications, but not explicitly stated)

Social Enterprise Schools‘ No funders explicitly named; possibly Mr. James Wrigley, although wording unclear

Vocational Value‘ Sir Robert Horton and Charles Alexander

Best Behaviour‘ No funders explicitly named; possibly Mr. James Wrigley, although wording unclear

Room at the Top‘ Not explicitly stated but implied: ‘King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity’

Higher Education in the Age of Austerity: Shared Services…‘ Funders not explicitly named. See acknowledgments at end of publication for ‘support’, which presumably includes some financial and some other.

Special Educational Needs‘ Leo Noé and the Rachel Charitable Trust

Designing Student Loans to Protect Low Earners‘ No funders named (unless I’ve missed them somewhere…).

Higher Education in the Age of Austerity:The Role of Private Providers‘ No funders explicitly named. Acknowledgements (p. 4) seem to refer to advice or similar rather than financial support.

Teacher Expertise for Special Educational Needs‘ Leo Noé and the Rachel Charitable Trust

Blocking the Best‘ No funders explicitly named (names given seem to imply advice rather than financial support)

More Fees Please?‘ Thanks ‘our consortium of donors’ – no explicit names

Simply Learning‘ Microsoft, City & Guilds, Reed in Partnership, the Financial Services Skills Council, Edge and the Open University.




Ownership of School Lands – TKAT (The Kemnal Academies Trust)

This reply from TKAT (8th April 2014) is very helpful in illustrating the kinds of arrangements which exist, and the legal constraints on transfers of school land freeholds:

Please find below a summary of the how TKAT holds the school sites for its academies:


• TKAT holds a 125 year lease of 29 school sites.

• TKAT holds the freehold of 7 school sites.

• There is one TKAT academy where TKAT holds the freehold of part of the site and part of the site is held under a 125 Year Lease (due to amalgamation of two different categories of school to form a single primary academy).

• There is one TKAT academy where the school site is held under a Tenancy at Will pending grant of a 125 year lease (due to Local Authority registering freehold of land).

• There is one TKAT academy where the school site is held under a short lease pending grant of a 125 year lease (due to Local Authority carrying out development works).

• TKAT holds one school site under a Land Supplemental Agreement (due to this being a church school and land being retained by trustees and occupied by TKAT by way of a licence to occupy).


TKAT cannot lease land to any of its Academies as these are not separate legal entities and are therefore unable to hold land themselves.


Please note the manner in which each school site is transferred to TKAT when the school converts to academy status is governed by the Academies Act 2010 and the DfE’s Land Transfer Advice and the prior approval of the DfE must be obtained. The manner of transfer is determined by the type of School and the land arrangements in place prior to conversion. The freehold of a school site has only transferred to TKAT where it was previously held by the Governing Body of the school not where the freehold is held by the Local Authority. Where the freehold of land is transferred a restriction must be entered against the title at the Land Registry to prevent any disposal without the prior consent of the Secretary of State for Education.


Please find a link to the DfE’s Land Transfer Advice here which you may find useful –


Ownership of school lands in Oxfordshire: information from Oxfordshire County Council

I’ve had a response from Oxfordshire County Council (1/4/2014), which shows that across the county many schools are either leased from the LA or from a previous Foundation Trust; the main exception to this is in the case of C of E and Roman Catholic schools, where OCC may (as noted below) own the playing fields and lease them to a school, but the other land belongs to another body (presumably, the relevant diocese, although I have yet to investigate this). I have copied below the full text of the document sent to me by OCC:


“Freehold of land for academies in Oxfordshire

OCC own freehold of whole site with a 125 academy year lease out to academy

trust for all of part of the site for the following schools:

The Oxford Academy

North Oxfordshire Academy

Oxford Spires Academy (formerly Oxford School)

Wallingford School (secondary)

Hanwell Fields Community School (primary)

Rush Common School (primary)

Bartholomew School (secondary)

Faringdon Infant School

Faringdon Junior School

Faringdon Community College

Lord Williams’s School (secondary)

Chipping Norton School (secondary)

Langtree School (secondary)

The Cherwell School (secondary)

The Henry Box School (secondary)

Burford Secondary School

Didcot Girls’ School (secondary)

St. Birinus School, Didcot (secondary)

Northern House Special School

Gosford Hill School (secondary)

Cheney Community College

Harriers Ground Community Primary School – now Harriers Banbury Academy

Kingfisher Special School

Iffley Mead Special School – now Isis Academy

Fitzwaryn Special School

Cutteslowe Primary School

Manor School, Didcot (primary)

Willowcroft Community Primary School

Ladygrove Park Primary School

Orchard Meadow Primary School

Windale Community Primary School

Pegasus Primary School

Berinsfield Community Primary School – Now Abbey Woods Academy

Charlton Primary School

Watchfield Primary School

Cholsey Primary School

John Mason Secondary School, Abingdon

OCC do not own freehold of most of the school site for the following schools. (In

most cases OCC still own the freehold to the playing fields which are leased out to

the academy trust on a 125 year academy lease.):

The John Henry Newman CE Primary School

Gillotts School (secondary)

Wheatley CE Primary School

St Christopher’s C of E Primary School, Cowley

The Hendreds CE Primary School, Wantage

Grove C of E Primary School

John Blandy VC Primary School

Buckland C of E Primary School

Shrivenham C of E Primary School

Longcot & Fernham C of E Primary School

Wantage C of E Primary School

St Johns Primary School, Wallingford

St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Carterton

St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Thame

Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary, Witney

St. Thomas More Catholic Primary School, Kidlington

Our Lady’s RC Primary School, Cowley

St John Fisher RC Primary School, Littlemore

St Gregory the Great RC Secondary School

The Marlborough C of E School (secondary)

NB: In both cases there may be areas of the school site which are either excluded

from the academy transfer i.e. freehold ownership by OCC was retained, or a

sublease was granted back to OCC for an area of the site.

OCC do not own the freehold of most or all of the site of previous Foundation Trust:

King Alfred’s Community & Sports College – now King Alfred’s Academy- trustees

own land and building, except playing field which is part trustees owned, part OCC

Banbury School (secondary)

Dashwood Primary School”