Aspirations Academy Trust given ten years to repay £1m advance

Janet Downs's picture

Aspirations Academies Trust (AAT) is one of seven academy trusts which owed the Education and Skills Funding Agency £1m or more  at the end of the financial year 2017/18.   The trust has been given ten years to repay an advance of £1m according to a belated Freedom of Information (FoI) response*.   

AAT’s accounts** say this relates to a ‘revenue deficit inherited from Atlantic Academy’ which AAT took over in September 2017.   AAT received transfer fees of £150k.   

The predecessor school, Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA) had  received an ‘exceptional grant’ of £518,326 to stabilise its finances  in 2017/18 in addition to £218k awarded in 2016/17.    

IPACA Trust has now dissolved.  Company House records show a ‘charge’ in favour of the Education Secretary which is only ‘partially satisfied’.   Legal charges are used to protect taxpayer investment in school sites.  It’s not known what's happened to the unsatisfied part of the charge.   Companies House lists no charges against AAT.

Eight AAT employees earned more than £100k (excluding pension costs) in academic year 2017/18 including one paid between £200k and £210k.


The final two trusts which owed £1m are here:

Leigh Academies Trust (LAT) received £1.2m repayable in five instalments up to 2023/24.   But LAT’s most recent accounts** show it received an advance of £1,688,000 to ‘meet current deficits’ at The Leigh UTC.   This deficit is likely to have occurred under LAT’s watch.  It's run the UTC, which now has a Key Stage 3 annex, since it opened. 

£200k has been paid back; the remainder will be repaid from future surpluses at the UTC and not from ‘other resources of the Trust’. 

Eight LAT employees were paid above £100k in academic year 2017/18 including one whose pay ranged between £220-£230k.

In summer 2018, Private Eye found LAT received £1.5m from Greenwich Council.  LAT had requested £500k for ‘essential health and safety work’ at Corelli College prior to LAT’s takeover of the struggling academy.    £1m was for ‘disputed land’.    LAT received £150k in rerokerage when Corelli College was transferred.

Warwick Mansell reports that LAT is making staff redundant at the former Corelli College, now Halley Academy, and tried to put support staff faced with losing their jobs on ‘garden leave’ from 5 April.

LAT merged with The Williamson Trust on 1 January bringing the number of LAT academies to 23.

Theale Green School Trust (TGST): received an advance of £1.2m repayable in six instalments up to 2024/25.  This is in addition to a non-repayable grant of £57,720.    The repayment schedule will not be met as TGST was dissolved in October 2018.



*This is the third article discussing the FoI response sent to Andrew Jolley after delays, refusals and an internal review lasting over a year.  The delay means the data is already out-of-date.  The first article is here.  The second is here.

**Year ending 31 August 2018, available from Companies House

Footnote:   Further details of academy trusts receiving advances are on Education Uncovered.

CORRECTION 16 April 12.23.  The article has been changed to make it clear the amounts represent what was owed at the end of the financial year 2017/18.  This may not reflect the total amount advanced to the named trusts.  This total amount lent may have been reduced by payments made in previous years.

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