The managing director of a firm hired to carry out extensive projects for the trust has defended its ties to school staff.

An investigation into The Thrive Partnership Academy Trust said while there were no direct trust board connections with Mackman Ltd, it would have been “good practice” for them to declare staff interests.

The firm were used for branding and work on the trust's website and had been paid £140,000 since October 2015 excluding services not quoted for.

Paul Mackman, managing director of Mackman Group, said: “I can confirm that our name was first put forward by a family member who is part of the teaching staff and therefore not a decision maker.

“During the period we were regularly invited to tender for various projects.

“This is typical of the working relationship we have with a number of respected educational establishments across the country; and for which we have won a national marketing excellence award.

“The work that we undertook was significantly broader than brand and website design, this including for example a multi-channel sixth form recruitment campaign, prospectus design and production, an online learning portal, research and other projects including brand and website design.

“Naturally we are not privy to the internal workings of these establishments or their decision making processes relating to awarding contracts and work.

“Of course we make every effort to provide best value and it is typical of the type of work that we undertake that we become a trusted ongoing partner, since many of these projects are interrelated.”