Durand Academy Trust issued with financial notice to improve

Durand Academy Trust issued with financial notice to improve

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) has issued Durand Academy Trust (DAT) with a financial notice to improve – telling the trust some of its delays so far have been “unacceptable”.

In a letter, published today, the EFA has told DAT, which runs Durand Academy in south London, it must commission an independent review of its membership, trustees and structures and it must have an action plan in place by May 15.

It is the latest in a string of concerns about the school and its trust. Last month, the Charity Commission launched an inquiry into Durand Education Trust (DET) about the “lack of separation” between DET and DAT.

Last year, the National Audit Office released a report raising raised concerns about “related-party transactions” made between the trusts and associated private companies.

Executive headteacher Sir Greg Martin (pictured) was grilled by MPs at a Public Accounts Committee about the school’s relationship with GMG Educational Support (UK) Ltd, the management arm of private company Horizons London Ltd, which runs leisure centre facilities on the school’s site. It was heard he earned more than £400,000, and ran a dating agency from the site.

The EFA’s letter today also revealed that the academy trust has proposed to remove Sir Greg as the trust’s accounting officer “in order to reduce conflicts of interest”.

However, the EFA has warned that this move should not result in any termination payments to Sir Martin, or members of his family.

The trust is unable to appoint a new accounting officer without the consent of the EFA, or finalise agreements for a new communications and public relations company without consent from the EFA.

The EFA also raised concerns about the position of Mark McLaughlin as the primary school’s headteacher and director of Durand Educational Trust (DET) and London Horizons (LH).

It said: “In your letter of 27 February you say that once the Charity Commission’s inquiry has concluded you will ask Mr McLaughlin to either stand down as head teacher or as director of DET/LH.

“This delay is unacceptable. We are not persuaded that Mr McLaughlin should continue to hold positions in both DAT and DET/LH while line managed by Sir Greg Martin who benefits from the GMG contract now held by DET of which LH is a wholly owned subsidiary.”

The EFA warned DAT that if it is unable to fulfil any of the conditions or requirements set out in the notice within the timescales states it will “consider termination of the funding agreement between the Secretary of State and DAT”.