Ex-minister’s multi-academy trust collapses

An academy trust chaired by former education minister Jim Knight is to fold.

HTI Education Trust has announced that it will wind up and hand over responsibility for the two schools it runs because it does not have the capacity to support them properly.

A decision to cease operating was made in September, though details have only now emerged.

Schools Week contacted Lord Knight (pictured below), who said trustee Matthew Chiles would speak on the trust’s behalf.

Mr Chiles said: “We haven’t grown fast enough to generate capacity to properly support the schools. So we just took the decision that [it was] best to seek new sponsors.”

Lord Knight was minister of state for schools and learners in Gordon Brown’s Labour government, but more recently has been company chairman of HTI Education Trust.

Jim Knight's profile on twitter

Jim Knight’s profile on twitter

The trust is the parent body of the HTI Multi-Academy Trust, which runs HTI’s two primary academies on a day-to-day basis. HTI Multi-Academy Trust is chaired by Anne Evans OBE.

Mr Chiles said that both HTI Education Trust and HTI Multi-Academy Trust would be wound up “as soon practically possible”, and that the trust was hoping to meet with ministers to discuss what would happen to the trust’s two schools.

“We’re in close discussions with the department, and have been for a few weeks now. We’ll continue to do that,” he said on Wednesday.

“I haven’t had a chance to speak to Jim [Knight] today about how far we’ve progressed with seeking meetings with ministers, etc. But we’re looking to move extremely quickly, obviously for the students’ sake and the schools’ sake.”

The news comes after one of the trust’s schools – Moor Green Primary School in Birmingham – was placed into special measures last month. The trust also runs Over Hall Community School in Cheshire, which has not had an Ofsted inspection since converting to academy status in September last year.

Asked for further details about the “capacity” issues that meant the trust was not viable, Mr Chiles said no further details would be provided at present.

“Each trust is different. I think what we’d like to do, and I think that Jim has said this publicly – we want a chance to brief the minister and the department on the particular circumstances we found ourselves in really. I think that’s probably all I want to say about that,” he said.

A DfE spokesperson said: “We are currently working with HTI Education Trust to secure the futures of Moor Green Primary and Over Hall Community School. We are making sure that pupils’ education is not affected as we speak to potential new sponsors.

“Moor Green is in special measures – and clearly that is not good enough. We have consistently demonstrated that we are tough on underperformance in all types of school.”

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