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”.

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  1. Mrs olyhumarus

    This school has provided an outstanding education for all its pupils. Results are higher than the national average. An executive head teacher with vision and a clear understanding of the expectation of parent delivers. There has been no fraud or sexual scandal. A headteacher that has more insight than the present government is being scapegoated. Is this because the academy is predominately black. Why is it that something positive is happening for black pupils they always try and bring us down. As a parent I am sick of it. Release the funds promised and allow are children to achieve.

    • Janet Downs

      Mrs olyhumarus. Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, acknowledged that the education provided at Durand was good (although the schools had dropped a grade from Outstanding in its recent inspection). However, the Education Funding Agency, the National Audit Office, the Charities Commission and the Public Accounts Committee all have concerns about how Durand Academy Trust is run.

      High results do not mean that concerns about financies shouldn’t be properly investigated. This is everything to do with the correct use of taxpayers’ money and nothing to do with the ethnicity of the pupils who go to the school.