Troubled academy trusts still on official sponsor list updated yesterday

Janet Downs's picture

The official academy sponsor list*, updated by the Department for Education yesterday, still contains names of troubled academy trusts.  

Academy Trusts still on the approved list despite being a cause for concern are:

Perry Beeches The Academy Trust appears despite having been stripped of its academies following a 2016 financial scandal.

All academies were transferred from St Neots Learning Partnership after it received a Financial Notice to Improve (FNtI).   It is now in the process of being struck off the Companies House register.

Floreat Education is listed despite deciding to close.  Its schools have been rebrokered.

Another listed trust which has lost all its academies is Grace Foundation.  The foundation’s three schools were transferred to Tove Learning Trust on 1 April 2019.

The three troubled academy trusts I wrote about recently: Rodillian, TBAP and The Thrive Partnership, all appear.  The only difference is that contact details have been removed.  This is true of all listed trusts.  Their absence is probably an admission that the list was becoming increasingly inaccurate

Interserve Academies Trust (IAT) remains as an approved sponsor despite being dissolved in August 2018.  The trust’s last accounts show IAT had  related party transactions which didn’t conform to academy rules. 

An open Financial Notice to Improve appears to be no barrier to being named as an approved academy sponsor.   I found ten trusts which are still subject to an FNtI (see Appendix).

The above is not a definitive list of anomalies on the approved academy sponsor list.  There may be more. 

The DfE says information on the list comes from ‘internal academies management information held centrally by DfE’.  But this statement is undermined as the DfE puts responsibility on academy trusts to email the department if details need to be changed. 

Schools looking for a sponsor are told to consult the approved sponsor list.  But they cannot do so if contact details are missing.  They should also be able to assume the list does not contain names of trusts in trouble, trusts where all academies have been rebrokered and trusts which have dissolved.

This is the DfE’s responsibility.  It should be expected that the department would remove the names of academy trusts which are notorious or non-existent.  It should also consider whether it is appropriate for trusts to continue to have approved sponsor status when subject to an open FNtI.  Surely approval should be withdrawn until the trust is on a sound financial footing.

Three days ago, I said six years had passed since I first wrote about errors in the DfE's approved sponsor list.  Despite being updated yesterday, the list still contains mistakes.  This is worrying.


*Download here


APPENDIX.  The ten approved academy sponsors subject to an open FNtI are:

Avonbourne International Business and Enterprise Trust;

Bright Futures;

Chapel Street Community Schools Trust;

De La Salle Order (runs De La Salle Academy Trust);

Dominic Barberi Multi Academy Company;

The Engage MAT;

Education for the 21st Century;

The Heath Family Trust;

Rodillian (subject to two FNtIs);

Stratton Education Trust.

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