Basildon Academies trust issued fourth government warning

Basildon Academies trust issued fourth government warning

An academy trust dubbed one of the early “untouchables” has been issued with its fourth government warning notice.

The Basildon Academies trust was handed a financial notice to improve, published today, over a forecast budget deficit. The deficit figure is not published.

It’s the fourth such warning notice issued to the trust or one of its schools since 2012.

Schools Week reported in 2015 that academies minister Lord Nash had admitted some of the early trusts were “untouchable” – a label critics attached to Basildon.

Nash said early funding agreements had blocked the government from delivering “strong and swift” intervention in some underperforming academies.

After “unacceptably low” GCSE results in 2012, former schools minister Lord Hill issued Basildon its first notice.

Hill said it was vital governors “consider joining a successful sponsor chain” to drive improvement.

The trust was then issued a second notice – a full warning notice in June that year – which stated standards were still unacceptably low.

A third notice was then issued by regional schools commissioner Tim Coulson in September 2014 over continuing poor attainment.

Today’s notice to improve focuses on the trust’s finances. The Education Funding Agency said it “remains concerned” by the size of the trust’s forecast deficit and the level of requested financial support.

The letter, sent by Mike Pettifer from the EFA’s academies group, states that non-compliance to set a balanced budget is “often indicative of serious financial and/or governance issues”.

The trust was told to provide a robust deficit recovery plan outlining plans to repay funding advances.

It must also commission a full and independent review of financial management and governance – which should include considering joining a multi-academy trust.

Pettifer states the trust’s funding agreement could be terminated if it does not comply with the government’s terms.

The Basildon Echo previously reported that 76 teachers had left the trust’s upper and lower schools between 2012 and 2015.

The trust is sponsored by Stanton Lane Educational Trust, founded by the late American businessman Martin Finegold.

Schools Week has contacted the trust for comment.

The DfE previously told Schools Week the 2012 notices were deemed no longer applicable because of changes in leadership at the school.