EXCLUSIVE: £700k grant for MAT now being probed by ESFA
SchoolsCompany Trust had ‘liquidity’ issues
The SchoolsCompany Trust, which is losing The Goodwin Academy and its three Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), was granted £704,895 to stabilise finances in financial year 2016/17, Freedom of Information shows.
The Goodwin Academy, previously Castle Community College, transferred to SchoolsCompany Trust in July 2016.
Private company linked to SchoolsCompany Trust ran predecessor school before conversion
SchoolsCompany Trust accounts* for year ending 31 August 2016 show Castle CC had been run under a private contract through SchoolsCompany Ltd, a private limited management consultancy for three years before transfer. During this time, Castle CC plunged from outstanding to special measures before being upgraded to requires improvement shortly before SchoolsCompany Trust took it over.
CEO paid £105k-£110k in 2016/17
The CEO of SchoolsCompany Ltd, Elias Achilleos, was also CEO of SchoolsCompany Trust until May 2018. Accounts* show Achilleos was paid between £70K and £75k in academic year 2015/16 and between £105k and £110k in 2016/17 by the Trust. This does not include pension contributions of several thousands.
ESFA investigation may find other weaknesses
The auditors’ report* says the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is investigating the Trust and may find ‘previously undisclosed Related Party Transactions’. Auditors said inadequate budget monitoring ‘led to serious cash flow and liquidity issues not being identified and forecast’.
The SchoolsCompany Trust was issued with a Financial Notice to Improve in July 2017. Accounts* for year ending 31 August 2017 said:
‘The Trust has significant recoverable debt with the Department for Education and budgets for the year 17/18 require further borrowing.’
It is not known if further money was granted to SchoolsCompany Trust in financial year 2017/18. The Department for Education turned down my FoI request because it would ‘prejudice’ ESFA’s work when engaging with trusts ‘on complex financial issues’.
Goodwin Academy to be transferred to TSAT
The Goodwin Academy moved into a new £25m building in September 2017 and new uniform introduced. The academy now faces another change - it will be transferred to Thinking Schools Academy Trust in September.
Wave Multi Academy Trust, which specialises in alternative provision, will take over the three PRUs, Schools Week reports.
Kent blogger followed SchoolsCompany for four years
‘Peter’s blog’ at Kent Independent Education Advice has followed SchoolsCompany Trust since 2014. Full details of the debacle are here.
New CEO has track record of finding financial weaknesses
SchoolsCompany Trust is now being run by a team chosen by the Regional Schools Commissioner. In the last accounts*, new CEO Angela Barry stresses the ‘seriousness of the situation, both in relation to pupils’ outcomes and the Trust’s finances’. There had been inaccurate reporting of exam results in the Trust’s PRUs.
Barry has a track record of exposing weaknesses – she was instrumental in ‘demolishing the now defunct Lilac Sky [Schools] Academy Trust (LSSAT), Peter writes.
LSSAT will be the next trust discussed in this series about academies and UTCs receiving grants to support their finances in financial year 2016/17. The first article describing five bailed-out establishments which subsequently closed is here.
*All company records available at Companies House