Trent Valley Academy, Gainsborough, was officially opened in June 2010 by the Duke of Gloucester. The new-build academy, which replaced two 1960s secondary modern schools in 2008, was sponsored by Edu Trust (later known as E-Act).
But if you search for Trent Valley on the Department for Education’s database Get Information About Schools (GIAS), you won’t find it. Neither will you see any record of the academy being sponsored by E-Act.
That’s because Trent Valley was transferred to Lincoln College Academy Trust (LCAT) in May 2015 and renamed Gainsborough Academy.
Trent Valley had been judged inadequate in May 2013, the same month E-Act was censured for operating in a ‘culture of extravagant expenses’. In 2014, E-Act was ordered to give up ten of its academies after Ofsted criticised the chain.
LCAT received £195k in transfer fees when it took over Trent Valley. Inspectors upgraded the academy to ‘requires improvement’ in October 2014 but placed it in special measures two years later.
Gainsborough Academy, formerly Trent Valley, closed for a ‘fresh start’ on 31 May 2018. The academy was rebrokered to the Wickersley Partnership Trust which received £100k in transfer fees. LCAT was dissolved in June.
Officially, Gainsborough Academy opened in 2018. The only way a reader can find some previous history is to click on the ‘Links’ tab on the GIAS record. This shows a ‘predecessor school’ named, er, Gainsborough Academy. It’s described as ‘new provision’ opening iin September 2008 and closing in May 2018. Clicking ‘Links’ on the record for the predecessor school (Gainsborough Academy) shows the name of its successor (Gainsborough Academy) and two predecessor schools: the secondary moderns closed in 2008.
No mention of Trent Valley. No mention of E-Act. No mention of LCAT.
It’s impossible to trace a school’s history when information is not provided on the DfE’s database. Such omissions matter. If a multi-academy trust drops a school then its involvement with the school can be expunged. This can give a false picture of the MAT’s performance.
Trent Valley is not an isolated case. It takes time and determination to follow a school’s history. It should not do so.