Durand Education Trust to be investigated by the Charity Commission

Durand Education Trust (DET) is facing new scrutiny after the Charity Commission announced today it is to open a statutory inquiry into the academy trust.

It is the latest in a number of investigations into the Trust, which runs Durand Academy in south London.

The commission launched the inquiry on February 11 and said it has been “engaging” with the charity since last October.

The commission said concerns surrounded a “lack of separation” between the management of the two charities – DET and Durand Academy Trust – and its oversight of its “investment assets”.

Information on the Charity Commission’s website show DET filed three years of accounts on January 12, meaning the 2011 accounts were 926 days late.

Last month, the Education Funding Agency said the academy would face limits on its spending powers if a “clear conflict of interest” is not managed by March.

It came about after the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard details of the school’s headteacher Sir Greg Martin was paid a £175,000 management fee in 2013/14, on top of his £229,000 salary and pension package as head of the academy.

MPs in the PAC grilled Sir Greg (pictured above) 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 also revealed that Sir Greg ran a dating agency from the school site.

The hearing followed a National Audit Office report released last year, which raised concerns about “related-party transactions” made between the trusts and associated private companies.

Last week, Schools Week also reported that the school was told by the Office of the School’s Adjudicator to change its admissions policy, which gave preferential treatment to children who had attended its nursery.

In a statement released today, the Charity Commission said: “The commission stresses that opening an inquiry is not in itself a finding of wrong doing.

“The purpose of an inquiry is to examine issues in detail and establish the facts so that the regulator can ascertain whether there has been misconduct or mismanagement; establish the extent of the risk to the charity’s property, beneficiaries or work; decide what action needs to be taken to resolve the serious concerns, if necessary using its investigative, protective and remedial powers to do so.”

The inquiry’s remit includes:

– whether or not the former trustees and trustees of the charity have discharged their duties and responsibilities as charity trustees

– the governance of the charity, including whether conflicts of interest were or are being identified and/or adequately managed and if there has been any unauthorised private benefits arising from the charity’s activities

– whether or not and to what extent there has been mismanagement and/or misconduct on the part of those acting in the administration and management of the charity

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