Agreement reached over age restrictions at former UTC site

An academy trust has agreed to council demands for access to facilities at two of its schools, in return for lifting restrictions that prevented younger pupils from using a new building.

The dispute between Daventry District Council and E-Act over the lease on a former UTC building may be reaching an end, as the trust appears to have accepted terms that it warned would have an “adverse impact” on students just a few weeks ago.

The Parker E-Act Academy, an 11 to 18 secondary school, took over a £9.4 million building that had belonged to the now-defunct Daventry UTC at the start of this school year.

We are working closely together to ensure that we can continue to maximise the life chances of young people in Daventry

However, a pre-existing lease on the building, renamed the Randolph Building, explicitly states it should be used primarily for students over the age of 14, restricting access to the new facilities by younger pupils.

At the start of October, E-Act told Schools Week it could not agree to the council’s demand for full after-hours control of the sporting facilities at Parker and the nearby all-through academy Danetre and Southbrook Learning Village in return for lifting the age restriction.

At the time, spokesperson for the trust said any agreement would result in an “adverse impact” on the school’s ability to “deliver positive educational outcomes for our pupils” and warned of the safeguarding issues that would arise from such an arrangement.

It added: “As a charitable organisation we simply cannot hand over our assets to a third party. Our pupils must have priority use of their academy facilities.”

However, E-Act now appears to have changed its mind and agreed to the community use of its schools.

A joint statement from the council and the trust said that, following “positive discussions”, both parties had agreed “the basis of a plan”. The proposal will provide community access to “all E-Act sites in Daventry” and enable the Randolph Building to be used by E-Act pupils “of all ages”, without restriction.

The proposal is still subject to councillor and E-Act board approval, the two bodies said.

“We are working closely together to ensure that we can continue to maximise the life chances of young people in Daventry while continuing to serve the needs of our local community.”

When asked for clarification on what had changed to allow the deal, which facilities the community will have access to, whether concerns had been allayed and when a final agreement was likely to be reached, both bodies replied with the same statement:

“E-Act and Daventry District Council are working closely on the details of the agreement and will not be commenting further at this time.”