Heathrow UTC hit with financial notice to improve after ‘loss of control’

The Heathrow Aviation Engineering University Technical College has been issued with a financial notice to improve by the Education Funding Agency, due to an “apparent loss of financial control”.

The UTC, which opened in North London in September 2014, failed to balance its budget and suffered cash flow problems since 2015, according to a letter issued by the EFA on August 23 and published on the website today.

Mike Pettifer, director of the academies and maintained schools group, highlighted in the letter that failing to set a balanced budget breached the UTC’s funding agreement, meaning improvements in financial management, control and governance were necessary for it to stay in operation.

The EFA’s decision to issue the letter also triggered the cancellation of the UTC’s delegated authorities meaning all its transactions must now go through the EFA for approval.

Delegated authorities may be returned to the UTC once the notice to improve has been satisfied.

The conditions of the notice include a revised three year financial recovery plan from 2016/17 to 2018/19; an external governance review; and proof of the qualifications held by the UTC’s accounting officer, chair of governors and chief financial officer.

Mr Pettifer wrote in the letter that the EFA “will monitor progress made towards meeting the requirements associated with this notice” and will “lift the notice when the requirements set out in the annex have been met”.

If the requirements are not met, the UTC could face having its funding agreement terminated.

The challenges faced by Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC come next in a long line of problems that have hit the 14-19 vocational institutions, including financial notices and closures.

Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC was unable to comment by the time of publication.


Pictured: Opening of Heathrow UTC in 2014


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  1. The Financial Notice to Improve letter to Heathrow Aviation UTC wasn’t on the DfE’s list of such letters. I had to do an internet search to find it. I notice it’s dated 23 August. Other FNIs have been published more quickly than this one. This raises the question about how many similar letters are waiting in the wings.

  2. The UTC and studio school policy has been dogged with problems. These often stem from recruitment difficulties. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that pupils are reluctant to move schools at age 14. Yet more UTCs and studio schools continue to be opened despite some having already closed after just a few years. This policy should be scrapped – it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money.

  3. They are also eyed up by neighbouring schools as a repository for their under achievers or difficult students. They struggle to recruit girls in particular and most are significantly under occupied making the cost per place quite high. For these reasons and those mentioned by Janet they are not viable as free standing establishments. I can see that some MATs may be encouraged to combine them with the ‘centres of excellence’ being suggested as the fiddle to get around the legislation needed for grammar schools.