New build Floreat free school in Wokingham didn’t open as expected

Janet Downs's picture
 9

Floreat Silver Meadow primary school was due to open in September 2018 in a brand-new building.   But the long-awaited school, originally scheduled to open in temporary accommodation in September 2016,  did not open as expected.  

Floreat Education Academies Trust (FEAT) * says this was due to ‘very low pupil numbers’ caused by ‘slower than projected growth of the housing development that the school was built to serve’.

Floreat funding agreement to run Silver Meadow terminated

FEAT has now terminated its funding agreement for the school, the accounts* reveal.  This would allow Wokingham Borough Council to find a new sponsor when pupil numbers are sufficient to allow the school to open.  In the meantime, I assume the school is mothballed.

Cost of building Floreat Silver Meadow not known

The construction costs of Floreat Silver Meadow are not known despite the building being completed.  The school wasn’t included in the updated list of capital funding for free schools (downloadable here). 

£2m spent on temporary accommodation for Floreat Brentford, now closed

The list did reveal that capital costs for Floreat Brentford’s temporary accommodation were £2m.    The school has now closed – Hounslow Council and FEAT blamed each other.

£750k paid to Southall College for costs related to unopened Floreat free school in Southall

The DfE’s Annual Report and Accounts for financial year 2017/18 showed that £750k compensation for ‘costs incurred’ relating to a proposed Floreat free school in Southall was paid to Southall College. 

FEAT, founded by former Downing Street aide James (now Lord) O’Shaughnessy, currently has no free schools.  The trust runs two sponsored academies, Floreat Wandsworth and Floreat Montague Park.  One free school, Floreat Spencers Wood, Wokingham, is scheduled to open this September.  Two proposed Floreat free schools, Floreat Southall and Floreat Alperton, Colindale, never opened.  Floreat Brentford opened in 2015 but has now closed.

 

*Accounts for year ending 31 August 2018 available from Companies House

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Comments

Jane Eades's picture
Sat, 09/02/2019 - 17:27

"Lord O’Shaughnessy was appointed as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and a Government Whip (Lord in Waiting) in December 2016."


Matthew Bennett's picture
Sun, 10/02/2019 - 08:36

For more on Floreat, 'character education', and the chain's rather colourful US connections, see:

https://privatisingschools.wordpress.com/grit-feb-2016/


John Mountford's picture
Mon, 11/02/2019 - 13:50

The 'bad smell' created by such events as you describe here, Janet, should signal that something is fundamentally wrong with how public funds are unaccounted for and the shocking waste involved in far too many 'new enterprise' projects that masquerade under the general umbrella of 'new schools' simply disappearing. If this is how the functions of democracies can be perverted by the unelected, unaccountable power classes, then bring on the revolution!!


Celia Blair's picture
Sat, 02/03/2019 - 16:35

Having written to the ESFA about Floreat “MAT” (of 2 now half-capacity school) because I had seen that the CEO Janet Hillary earned, according to the recently publicly accessible 2018 accounts https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/…/09007740/filing-history
£165,367 in 2018 and £163,790 in 2017 but the trust had not been required to account for this very high salary.

An article in the TES https://www.tes.com/news/revealed-28-academy-trusts-ordered-justify-ceo-pay reported that
“According to the government, to date, Education and Skills Funding Agency chief executive Eileen Milner has written to the chairs of trustees at 213 academy trusts, 45 of which have cut salaries. “

I wondered why Floreat was not on the list? It had been claiming financial difficulties last year and had tried unsuccessfully to merge with another trust - Avanti.
I have now received 2 different acknowledgements of my enquiry but no answer.
It has taken almost a month to get this far!

Floreat's CEO is earning almost as much as the head of Wandsworth's children's services to oversee two half-full primary academies that have headteachers on high salaries and that are fully staffed. No wonder they are short of money - supplied by the state?


jane's picture
Mon, 04/03/2019 - 11:23

It is not just the salaries of the top brass but the ratio of teachers to non teachers. It is significant that many academy trusts seem to have a higher proportion of admin staff and managers than you would expect if you worked out the community schools position, taking into account local authority schools. According to Floreat's latest published accounts they employed 13 teachers, 34 admin. and support staff, and 6 management.
All of this staffing for 308 pupils (admittedly over 2 schools).


Celia Blair's picture
Mon, 04/03/2019 - 18:29

Reply from DfE's ESFA says they don'tinclude pension payments in the total salary of highly-paid GEOs atc but may do next year. "It should be noted that these returns do not currently include employer pension contributions. The Department is looking to have this information included in future returns, which may affect the trusts in scope for our challenge on high pay."
Don't the employer contributions come from the state? Aren't they funded by tax-payers? Is there another Money Tree?


Celia Blair's picture
Mon, 04/03/2019 - 18:31

Ooops! Please excuse typos CEOs and etc.


Celia Blair's picture
Mon, 04/03/2019 - 11:58

BUT 2 incomplete primary schools – up to Year 3 so far!
It’s rather sad to see my neighbours working their socks off to raise funds to pay for this.
I see that Wandsworth Floreat removed its ad. for volunteer admin staff.
I tweeted Janet Hillary last week because there were typos/spelling errors in the adverts for staff at Montague Park. They can’t even use a spell-checker? Embarrassing?
They have corrected one but It still says, "Our mission is to enable all children to flourish by immensing them in a knowledge rich academic education..... " !


John Mountford's picture
Mon, 04/03/2019 - 14:45

I just listened to the mid-day news. Two big stories dominated and both are directly linked with funding and policy in key public services. The crisis in care services, in this case for the elderly, was laid bare in one report in which local authorities and government departments pointed to the other party for responsibility or the shortcomings and the resulting inadequate service levels. In the second report on knife crime, the problem was directly linked to the dramatic rise in school exclusions, off-rolling and other strategies for dealing with anti-social behaviour. This, too was seen in relation to funding and policy decisions.

The sorry situation where different players blame each other for service inadequacies around funding is often difficult to resolve, the outcome depending on who is asked what questions! What is not debatable is who is responsible for the policy decisions that establish the environment in which public services currently operate. Despite the government of the day hiding behind the smoke-screen of blaming mistakes on problems inherited from previous governments, most of us know that explanation is false.

The marketisation/privatisation of everything from the probation service, schools, hospital trusts, to water, railways and so on has come at a very heavy price for consumers, taxpayers and especially the most vulnerable in our society. In most cases it is difficult to establish value for money following from these policy decisions, in others, notably education, it is clear that vast amounts of public money is being wasted as a direct result of policy decisions made by government. For the sake of the education of all our young people it is vital that we instruct our elected representatives that the present party political approach to policy making must end. I call for the formation of a National Commission for the Governance of Education in tandem with an end to the first-past-the-post system which goes a long way to explain the current political crisis. Without one person one vote I fear many electors will conclude that their vote is meaningless in our broken two party set-up.


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