The controversial Durand Academy Trust has received a financial notice to improve from the EFA. The school has been criticised for its financial arrangements. Durand was often lauded by Gove, the Head was knighted in 2013, and it has the support of local Labour MP Kate Hoey. Kate Hoey’s election agent is the vice chair of governors and she can be seen behind him in the photo shared by the press at the grilling by the public accounts committee.
The school has been at the centre of several controversies including the opening of a dating agency using the school address, opening a boarding school where planning permission has been argued over, and taking the local authority, Lambeth to court over libel, backed by the lawyers Carter Ruck.
The Head teacher was questioned by Margaret Hodge about his earnings of almost £400,000 and the setting up of businesses, some of which sell services to the school. An NAO report looked into the complex financial arrangements and concluded:
its “complex” structure left it open to a “perception of wrongdoing”. (TES 13/11/14)
When questioning the Head teacher, during a hearing of the public accounts committee, over his earnings and the setting up of businesses including a ‘high end dating agency’, Margaret Hodge
“Let’s get this straight, Sir Greg,” said Hodge. “You transferred the school from the Durand Academy Trust to the Durand Educational Trust in order to avoid paying corporation tax.”
Martin nodded enthusiastically. “Why bother giving the money back to the government when I can distribute it myself?” was the gist of his reply. (Guardian 26/1/15)
Now the charity commission are also launching an statutory inquiry into the trust. We await the outcome of this investigation with interest.