Discrepancies in DfE academy transfer data cast doubt on accuracy

Janet Downs's picture
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The Department for Education (DfE) has at last published the costs of transferring academies from one trust to another after a long-drawn-out battle.

But I’ve discovered discrepancies which cast doubt on the data’s accuracy.

In January 2016, following a court ruling,  the DfE sent me the costs of transferring 23 academies between September 2013 and October 2014.

It should be expected that this data would match the figures published today.  But they don’t.

Sometimes the mismatch is small.   For example, the DfE originally said Oasis Community Learning received £195,865 for taking over Isle of Sheppey Academy**.   But it now says Oasis received a total of £195,600 over two financial years.

Inspiration Trust received nothing for taking over The Thetford Academy** according to the earlier data.  But the latest figures say £25k was awarded.  This amount is significant because it’s the amount awarded to schools to pay legal fees when they convert to academy status.  This raises the question whether trusts receive a grant for legal expenses when they take over another academy and, if so, whether it counts as rebrokerage.  If not, then the full cost would be £25k higher for each transfer.  £25k may see a trivial sum but when multiplied by a hundred academies it represents a cost of £2.5m.

Not all the discrepancies are for small amounts.  Stamford Queen Eleanor Academy, (now Stamford Welland Academy**) was transferred to Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT) for £302k according to the earlier data.  The latest data says £230k.

The DfE told me Lion Academy Trust received £200k for Hartsbrook E-Act Free School (now Brook House Primary School).  The transfer fee has now dropped to £150k.

The mismatch is even larger in the case of The Winsford Academy**.  I was told The Fallibroome Trust received £534,300 but the DfE now says it was £195k.

The discrepancies aren’t just about costs.  Two schools on the original DfE list are missing from the new data: Ernesford Grange Community Academy and Radford Primary Academy.

If there are inconsistencies between data released in January 2016 and figures released this month, how can we trust information published by the DfE? 

*spreadsheet downloadable here

**MORE INNACURATE DATA

According to Edubase, the DfE’s database of schools, Isle of Sheppey Academy (now Oasis Isle of Sheppey) joined Oasis on two possible dates: 1 September 2009 or 1 January 2014.  The first date is wrong.  The Isle of Sheppey Academy was sponsored by Dulwich College, an independent school, from 2009 to the end of 2013. 

Edubase says The Thetford Academy joined Inspiration Trust on either 1 September 2010 or 1 September 2014.  The Thetford Academy was sponsored by Wymondham College until the end of August 2014.

Stamford Welland Academy joined CMAT on 1 November 2011 according to Edubase.  This isn’t true.  Stamford Queen Eleanor, the predecessor school, joined CfBT in November 2011 and was transferred to CMAT on 1 October 2014.

Edubase records show The Winsford Academy joined The Fallibroome Trust on either 1 September 2010 or 1 September 2014.  The academy was with E-Act from 2010 to September 2014.

History is rewritten, or wiped out altogether, when Edubase fails to record transfers.  

CORRECTION 17.14.  The title has been changed to correct faulty grammar

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