EXCLUSIVE: Isle of Portland academy given £218k to prop up finances

Janet Downs's picture

Financial Notice to Improve issued in 2016

The Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA), an all-through academy co-sponsored by Dorset council and the Aldridge Foundation, was issued with a Financial Notice of Improve in August 2016.    The Education Funding Agency* criticised the IPACA Trust for its poor governance, weak financial management and ineffective internal controls.  EFA said £520k was outstanding from a previous EFA repayable advance. 

Sometime during the financial year 2016/17, IPACA received £218,100 grant from EFA to support its financial recovery, Freedom of Information reveals.

Aldridge Foundation and Dorset LA failed to provide adequate support

In November 2016, IPACA was downgraded from good to inadequate.  Inspectors criticised co-sponsors Dorset council and the Aldridge Foundation for failing to provide adequate support.

The Aldridge Foundation was set up in 2006 by Sir Rod Aldridge when he retired from Capita Plc.      The Foundation set up Aldridge Education as a multi-academy trust (MAT) in 2016 but IPACA remained as a single academy trust co-sponsored by Aldridge Education.  Parents protested when IPACA trustees voted to join Aldridge Education and the plans were dropped.  

Financial woes blamed on building delays

IPACA trustees blamed their financial woes on delays in moving to the academy’s new site.   In March 2016, trustees said the Trust had a ‘five-year plan’ to ensure it was ‘financially sustainable’.  EFA told the BBC  it had not issued a Financial Notice to Improve at that time.  But it eventually did so.

IPACA closed for ‘fresh start’

IPACA was transferred to Aspirations Academies Trust (AAT) on 1 September 2017 when IPACA was closed for a ‘fresh start’.  The academy has been renamed Atlantic Academy Portland.  AAT received £150k in transfer costs (downloadable here ).

This is the sixth article in a series about academies given grants by EFA to support financial recovery in financial year 2016/17.  The first five are:

Fourteen academies bailed out.     

SchoolsCompany Trust  

Lilac Sky Schools Academies Trust  

United Learning Trust 

 Chatham Grammar School for Girls  


*The Education Funding Agency (EFA) is now the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).  

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