Soaring numbers of academy trusts are being wound up, and many are collapsing with deficits of millions of pounds, a Schools Week investigation has revealed.
Our analysis, using Companies House records, found at least 91 multi-academy trusts had closed or were in the process of being wound up since 2014.
However, more than half (46) closed or began closing this year – with figures soaring since 2014. The disclosure also comes after the government admitted last week that a lack of high-quality sponsors is still a “top risk” facing the academies system.
Closure rates are also likely to continue to rise after a series of high-profile academy trust failures such as Bright Tribe, Schools Company, and Wakefield City Academies Trust, which will soon officially close after their schools are rebrokered to other trusts.
Hefty bills for the government as more academy trusts close
Academies minister tells conference of school business managers ‘you are running businesses’
Schools are using inflated pupil-number projections to make their budgets for future years balance, a Department for Education minister has claimed.
Lord Agnew told the national conference of the Institute of School Business Leadership that this was a problem he saw “week in, week out”.
Speaking today, the minister, who oversees the academy system, said that school business managers were “really absolutely vital to the system, perhaps never more than now because of the funding pressures”.
Only one-in-five high paying academy trusts have agreed to cut six-figure salaries after the Department for Education asked them to justify their executive pay, Tes can reveal.
More than 200 academy trusts had been sent letters from the department questioning the high levels of pay being awarded to senior staff.
But of the 213 trusts which were targeted by the government, just 45 have since made reductions in senior pay.
The DfE said that these 45 trusts either no longer pay one person more than £150,000 or two people more than £100,000.
The country’s largest academy trust is to give up two more academies – despite recently being given the green light to take on more schools again.
The Academies Enterprise Trust announced today it has agreed with the Department for Education to give up two of its schools – Felixstowe Academy and Langer Primary.
AET has recently been taken off the government’s “pause” list, meaning it is allowed to take on new schools again. Hockley Primary Academy joined in September. However the growth is capped at up to 1,000 pupils at primary school level per year, and the trust is not allowed to take on secondary schools.
The removal of two of the trust’s schools also follows pressure from environment minister and Felixstowe MP Therese Coffey, who set up a petition, signed by nearly 1,400 people, for Felixstowe Academy to be handed to a new trust.
AET to give up two more schools after minister demands change
With the rise of multi-academy trusts, some teachers are now finding that they no longer have control over what they teach. It is not uncommon for MATs to prescribe a single curriculum across their schools – and even to provide scripted lessons. Some teachers fear that their professional judgement is being undermined, while others argue that getting everyone on the same page raises standards through collaboration. John Roberts asks: are MATs taking too much power away from their teachers?