BBC Dragon, entrepreneur and now further education celebrity, Peter Jones has been bringing FE into the nationals this week – kicking and screaming.
Now I know that FE Week has called FE the invisible sector, (see article below) but Peter Jones has proved us wrong.
The Daily Mail ran two stories, suggesting Peter might be pulling a ‘fast one’… the newspaper detailed allegations from Tom Bewick former National Enterprise Academy CEO, that Mr Jones had financially mismanaged the government-funded training academy he founded for young entrepreneurs.
Both The Telegraph and The Daily Mail said that Mr Bewick had written to Mr Jones and to Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, alleging financial mismanagement.
According to the two papers, the Skills Funding Agency investigation found “no evidence to substantiate these allegations”.
Mr Bewick had apparently claimed that the £9million government funding of the NEA was “hard to justify” because the academy wasn’t producing its predicted results. Mr Bewick claimed that the NEA was in danger of running out of money and also accused Mr Jones of being “disingenuous” about the amount of his personal fortune that he was contributing to the initiative.
But Mr Jones hit back at these allegations and The Telegraph reported that the multimillionaire businessman had said that the number of students who had passed through the NEA was exactly on track with the business plan.
Mr Bewick had claimed that only 260 students had so far graduated from the academy, compared to 2,715 predicted in the NEA’s business plan. Mr Jones said the 2,715 target was “across all customer groups” and that they had met this target through 745 direct BTEC students, and 1,970 students on other services.
The Telegraph reported that Mr Jones had dismissed suggestions that the NEA was struggling financially. “How could anyone question the viability of a charitable foundation owned by me?” he said. “If next month it needs millions, I’ll put it in.”
The National Enterprise Academy was launched in September 2009 and is billed as the UK’s first non-profit educational institution dedicated to teaching enterprise and entrepreneurship.