Bourne End Academy, a converter academy in Buckinghamshire with Wycombe High School Academy Trust (WHSAT), was given a grant of £150k in financial year 2016/17 to support financial recovery.
Between April and June 2018, WHSAT met schools minister Lord Agnew ‘to discuss the funding of Bourne End Academy’, Department for Education information reveals.
Parents told Bourne End was ‘in very good shape
The exact details of the meeting aren’t known but it’s likely rebrokerage of Bourne End was discussed. On 2 July, the Executive Head of WHSAT, Sharon Cromie, told parents Bourne End would be transferred to a new multi-academy trust and that the school was in ‘very good shape’ (see here, scroll down).
But the school wasn’t ‘in very good shape’. Pupil numbers had fallen and Bourne End had had to be bailed out. Its P8 score dropped from average in 2017 to well-below average (provisional) in 2018.
Takeover by E-Act approved in July
On 25 July 2018., a decision to move Bourne End to E-Act was approved by the local Regional Schools Commissioner Headteacher Board.
On 31 August, the academy ‘closed’. Bourne End reopened for a ‘fresh start’ on 1 September as a sponsored academy with E-Act, a trust which had been stripped of ten academies after Ofsted said it was failing too many pupils. A further Ofsted focussed inspection in 2016 found E-Act was taking ‘robust action’ to address failings but standards in E-Act’s academies were still too low.
E-Act continues to take over schools despite low P8 in 2017
In 2017, the Progress 8 (P8) score for E-Act secondary academies was well-below average. Nevertheless, E-Act took over two further secondary schools and three primaries in 2018.
David Moran, E-Act CEO, had two meetings with Lord Agnew between April and June: one was an ‘update meeting’; the second was to discuss E-Act’s approach to integrated curriculum and financial planning. It’s likely the proposed rebrokerage of Bourne End was discussed.
Not known yet how much paid in transfer fees
We should know in July 2019 how much, if anything, E-Act was paid in transfer fees when the DfE releases up-to-date transfer payments. But the data won’t include any deficit payments. These are excluded from published figures but can be considerable.
Did Bourne End receive further bail-outs?
We don’t know whether Bourne End received further bail-outs after 2016/17. The DfE has refused to release information about grants awarded to academy trusts to stabilise their finances in 2017/18. The Information Commissioner’s Office is now assessing whether the DfE was justified in keeping this information out of the public domain.