Engage Multi-Academy Trust hit with SECOND financial notice to improve

A Norwich-based multi-academy trust has been hit with a second financial notice to improve after failing to meet key conditions of the first notice.

The Engage Multi-Academy Trust, which runs nine schools, was issued a FNtI in March this year after being monitored by the Education and Skills Funding Agency because of its weak financial performance.

At the time, the ESFA told chair of trustees Phillip Harris that members of the senior leadership needed to be replaced to sort out precarious finances, and put together draft action plans for a governance review, recovery plan, and finance review,  by April.

The original letter stated if the conditions were not followed then the trust could have its funding terminated.

But a second letter, also entitled a financial notice to improve, was issued to Harris at the start of this term, and published online today. It is believed this is the first example of a trust receiving two FNtI.

In the latest letter, Mike Pettifer, director of academies and maintained schools at the ESFA, stated that despite “cooperation and extensive discussions” since the March notice, he remained concerned about the trust’s weak financial position and management.

Many of the conditions are the same in both letters. Schools Week has asked the DfE why the trust has received two notices, which doesn’t seem like normal practice.

The latest letter states the trust must continue to run all transactions past the ESFA. It must reduce the “overlaps” between trustees and members through new governance appointments, provide a recovery plan, appoint an interim CEO approved by the ESFA and the regional schools commissioner, replace the business manage and chief operating officer, and provide monthly accounts.

The notice will be lifted when all the requirements set out are met, continued Pettifer. If the trust fails to meet these requirements, funding may be terminated.