DfE 'minded to terminate' funding of 'inadequate' academy in Bristol

An all-through academy in Bristol faces having its funding stopped and being rebrokered to a new sponsor after inspectors identified “serious weaknesses”.

The Trust in Learning (Academies) (TiLA) chain has been told the government is “minded to terminate” its funding agreement with Bridge Learning Campus (BLC). It means that unless improvements are made, the funding deal will be torn up.

When government funding agreements are terminated, schools are either transferred to new sponsors or ordered to close.

The trust was informed of the development by Lisa Mannall, regional school commissioner (RSC) for the south west, after the school was rated ‘inadequate’ by inspectors in May.

Ofsted said pupils attending the three to 16 academy in Bristol could not write as well as pupils in other schools, were away from school too often, and made weaker progress at key stage 2 and key stage 4 than their peers in nine out of ten  schools nationally.

Pupils with special educational needs or disabilities also made poor progress, because teachers failed to give them adequate support, and the assessment of pupils’ ability and progress was insufficient.

Mannall wrote to Trust in Learning’s chair and chief executive last month to demand changes.

“I need to be satisfied that the trust will support Bridge Learning Campus to achieve rapid and sustained improvement,” she said.

“If I am not satisfied this can be achieved I will consider issuing a Termination Warning Notice in respect of the Supplemental Funding Agreement for the academy.”

As part of an action plan for “rapid and sustainable improvement”, the trust must bring about improvement to the leadership of teaching and learning “across the trust”, and improve outcomes for pupils.

The trust is also required to submit a monthly progress update, with the first edition submitted before the start of the new academic year.

Mark Davies, chief executive of Trust in Learning (Academies), said: “The board of TiLA is totally committed to turning round the recent poor outcomes.

“Already we have indications of significant improvement with provisional SATs test scores for combined reading, writing and maths in 2018 showing an improvement of 30 per cent over 2017.

“A post inspection action plan has been drawn up to tackle every area of concern and additional leadership support is being provided by myself and the team which took Bridge Learning Campus to ‘Good with Outstanding Features’ in 2015.

“We have met the RSC to discuss our plans which will lead to big improvements for every child at BLC.”