The Academies Enterprise Trust, one of England’s largest multi-academy trust with 61 academies, has received a second letter warning that funding could be terminated.
Andrew Warren, the Regional Schools Commissioner for the West Midlands, sent a ‘minded to terminate’ letter to AET regarding Four Dwellings Primary Academy, Birmingham, in November.
Four Dwellings had twice been judged to require improvement since it joined AET in January 2013. The last inspection in October 2019 downgraded the school to inadequate.
This is the second warning sent to AET. The RSC for the South West, Lisa Mannall, sent a similar letter to AET regarding Offa’s Mead Academy, a primary school in Chepstow, in March 2019.
Offa’s Mead joined AET in September 2012 and was judged good on its first inspection. Its second inspection in December 2018 downgraded the academy to inadequate.
AET has had difficulties in the past. It was sent a Financial Notice to Improve in 2014 (lifted in 2017) and Ofsted criticised the chain in 2016. Eleven AET academies were moved to new trusts between 2014/15 and 2017/18. Rebrokerage cost the taxpayer nearly £1.6m in transfer fees.
In June 2019, Nadhim Zahawi, former Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department for Education (now minister for Business and Industry), said in a written answer that AET spent £900+k ‘non-recoverable funding’ for costs involved in transferring four of these academies. Zahawi said the DfE expected AET to ‘achieve an operating surplus’ in academic year 2018/19. The trust’s accounts for this period are not yet on AET’s website. It has until the end of the month to publish them.
Warning letter to stand-alone Buckler’s Mead Academy
Trustees of the single-academy trust running Buckler’s Mead Academy, Yeovil, were sent a termination warning notice this month following the downgrading of the school from good to inadequate.
UPDATE 15.45: I have just been informed that Collective Vision Trust, which runs four academies, has been sent a 'minded to terminate' letter regarding Chesterton Primary School which was judged inadequate in September 2019.
UPDATE 21 January 13.13: AET also has been issued witha minded to terminate letter in respect of one of its secondary schools: Bexleyheath Aacademy, issued March 2019.