A trust that runs four primary schools spent thousands of pounds on overseas trips for its leaders, more than £1,000 on two hotel rooms for two nights and almost £10,000 on Facebook adverts for a free school that has not yet been set up, according to allegations in a draft investigation seen by the Observer.
In a case that will raise further questions about the financial management of academies, an inquiry into Silver Birch Academy Trust claims it spent £6,117 on a fact-finding trip to China and New Zealand for its chief executive Patricia Davies, a former headteacher of the year, and her deputy. The draft investigation states that the trust allegedly spent £99,000 refurbishing a former caretaker’s house, later to be rented out to a member of staff. It claimed £10,000 of work had been done without quotes having been obtained, while no rent had been paid.
It alleges the trust spent £3.26m on services from six companies without providing evidence of any contracts having been signed. It also alleges that the trust had contracts with four consultancy companies, together worth £326,044, without the work having gone out to tender. Meanwhile, a school within the trust spent £1,064 on two rooms for two nights at the Hyatt Regency hotel, Birmingham, with £507 of this for a room where the guest did not turn up.
A Runcorn free school once hailed by David Cameron has been slated by the education watchdog and graded ‘inadequate’ amid warnings of pupils not fulfilling their potential.
Ofsted focused its sharpest criticism on Sandymoor School’s GCSE performance, which was ‘among the worst nationally’ in 2016 and 2017.
THE DECISION to pair up a failing school with an academy trust has been made behind closed doors.
Waltham Holy Cross school will be run by the Net Academies Trust (NETAT), an email from regional schools commissioner Sue Baldwin to a parent revealed last week.
When the Waltham Abbey based school was judged ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors in March, its future conversion into an academy was sealed under Department of Education rules.
While many parents found the judgement hard to swallow and felt it did not reflect the good work of recently appointed headteacher Erica Barnet, the swift appointment of the academy trust – behind closed doors – left them reeling.