Troubled academy trusts: Rodillian, TBAP and Thrive Partnership.   Latest news

Janet Downs's picture

 Rodillian Academy Trust which runs four academies in Yorkshire has been slapped with its second Financial Notice to Improve (FNtI), Schools Week reports.  The trust has been warned that failing to comply with the new requirements could lead to the trust’s funding agreement being ended. The Education and Skills Funding Agency said the same in the first FNtL issued in February last year.

 Being subject to an FNtI doesn’t seem to prevent trusts being named as an approved sponsor.  Rodillian still appears on the sponsor list updated in June this year.

 TBAP, a trust specialising in alternative provision which gained notoriety after a Panorama programme in March, is to lose two of its schools.  Like Rodillian, it is listed on the updated approved academy sponsor list despite Panorama uncovering its failings.

The Thrive Partnership Academy Trust ceased to operate on 1 January 2019 after its academies were transferred into The Sigma Trust.  According to its accounts for period ended 31 December 2018*, the trust will close ‘in due course’.  Schools Week reports that a belatedly-published investigation by the Education and Skills Funding Agency compiled in November 2018 uncovered spending on ‘gift hampers and booze’ as well as finding the trust had chosen the most expensive quote for its marketing and website. 

 Schools Week reports that ‘the events and marketing co-ordinator’ at the trust’s teaching school, who was ‘married to the assistant principal’ at the trust’s Philip Morant school, was the brother of a director of the company which won the contract.  As at 31 August 2018, the trust had a deficit of nearly £600k.

 Worryingly, The Thrive Partnership Academy Trust still appears on the June 2019 approved sponsor list.  The contact is listed as N Sharma.  This is surprising as Sharma resigned in October 2018 shortly before ESFA finished compiling its report.  ESFA says Sharma, the trust's CEO, together with the Executive Principal had been suspended by the trust board in March 2018 'following allegations of inappropriate conduct and financial mismanagement.'.  That was 18 months ago yet Sharma is listed by the Department for Education as the contact for an academy trust in the process of winding up.

It is six years almost to the day that I first flagged errors in the DfE's approved sponsor list.  Six years later and it appears the situation hasn't improved.


*available from Companies House



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