Ministers finally set to shut down Perry Beeches

Ministers finally set to shut down Perry Beeches

The controversial Perry Beeches academy trust in Birmingham is finally set to be disbanded, with its five schools handed to other trusts, 15 months after financial irregularities were first revealed.

Schools Week understands that proposals to close the trust and rebroker its schools have finally been agreed, and are awaiting sign-off from the academies minister Lord Nash.

Four of the schools are set to be handed to the Core Education Trust, which was set up to take over two Birmingham schools caught up in the Trojan Horse affair. Ark will take on the other school.

The move ends a long spell of uncertainty following a critical government investigation in March last year that found the trust had funnelled £1.3 million to a private company without following proper procedures.

The private firm then paid a “second salary” to superhead Liam Nolan (pictured), with payments totalling £160,000 over two years on top of his £120,000 salary.

Nolan resigned in May last year, with the governing body also later standing down.

Talks dragged on for more than a year, but Schools Week understands a decision is expected in the next week with the five schools potentially handed to their new sponsors from September 1.

Transferring the schools through rebrokerage will give our students and staff the greatest opportunities in the future

Paul Wheeler, acting chief executive officer at Perry Beeches, said the trust “remains committed to our students receiving the highest standard of education and staff will be continuing to deliver this.

“We will be working hard with the potential sponsors to ensure a smooth handover is achieved.”

The trust’s deficit – believed to stand at more than £2 million – is thought to be the main factor behind the delay.

Schools Week understands the new trusts will not take on any debt run up specifically by the trust, meaning the Department for Education (DfE) could end up with the bill.

But the decision to rebroker all the schools comes after Perry Beeches’ acting leadership team, parachuted in by the government, appears to be on track for a budget surplus this year.

It has also overseen Perry Beeches III Free School moving to a “good” Ofsted rating in February after it was put in special measures in 2015.

The trust, at the centre of one of highest-profile academy scandals, was once praised by David Cameron and Michael Gove. It is believed that political sensitives contributed to the decision to close.

Wheeler said that trustees, alongside the area’s regional schools commissioner, Christine Quinn, and the DfE, have “thoroughly examined all the options available for each school”.

“We have concluded that transferring the schools through rebrokerage will give our students and staff the greatest opportunities in the future.”

Core and Ark refused to comment.