Former college of schools’ minister closed after free school opened nearby

Janet Downs's picture

A sixth-form attended by the new schools’ minister, Baroness Berridge, closed in 2018 after a post-16 free school opened nearby.

Rutland College, formerly Rutland Sixth Form College, was an Oakham-based annexe to Casterton College, an 11-16 comprehensive school outside Stamford.  It offered both academic and vocational courses.  In 2015, Harington School, a free school sixth form offering only academic courses, opened.

Faced with competition from another sixth form in a small market town, plans were drawn up for Rutland College to move to the Casterton site.  But these fell through and Rutland College had to close.    

The rationale behind the opening of Harington School was to offer ‘choice’.  But its establishment has had the opposite effect.  There is now no provision for post-16 vocational courses in Rutland.

Academy transfer not recorded in DfE data

When Harington School opened, it was run by the Harington School Trust based at Catmose College.  But it moved from this trust to join the Rutland and District Schools’ Federation (RDSF), also based at Catmose College, on 1 April 2016.   Oddly, this transfer does not appear in the Department for Education’s list of transferred academies*. 

The most recent accounts for RDSF show that while the trust is in surplus, Harington School has a deficit of £477k, up from £462k last year.

The accounts also show that all but one of the trust’s members are also trustees.  The Academies Financial Handbook says members should be 'eyes on and hands off' to ‘avoid compromising the board's discretion’.

Perhaps Baroness Berridge should reflect on the harm done by the policy which is now under her remit.  And, of course, remind academy trusts they should maintain a degree of separation between members and trustees.



*Downloadable here. 

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