Superhead Liam Nolan has resigned from his role at Perry Beeches Academy Trust today – paving the way for the government to appoint a new interim executive board.
Nolan has also stepped down from his accounting officer role following a government probe that revealed the executive headteacher was paid a second salary of £160,000 via a private firm called Nexus Schools.
Seven directors of the trust have also resigned – announced on Companies House this week –meaning just three remain to run the trust’s five schools.
Pank Patel, regional schools commissioner for the West Midlands, is now working to appoint a new interim executive board to replace the remaining trustees, Schools Week understands.
Patel is also tasked with finding a new sponsor for the schools, based in Birmingham.
The Department for Education has been unable to secure new sponsors thus far, with some schools reportedly running a large budget deficit.
The trust’s precarious financial position was also flagged up by accountants in its most recent annual report.
Schools Week understands that some of the more financially-stable schools will likely be taken over by other academy trusts.
One of the larger and most successful academy chains with schools based in the region is Ark.
However Schools Week has been told the chain has not held any talks with the government over the Perry Beeches schools.
The remaining schools could remain in a trust together headed by a new leadership team.
The arrangement could be similar to the resolution negotiated for the Al-Madinah School in Derby after an investigation into financial irregularities. Ofsted later put the school in special measures and branded it “dysfunctional”.
In that case the chief executive of another trust, the Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust, helped form a new board at Al-Madinah, which then led it out of special measures.
While the government is finding new leadership for the schools it has “paused” the progress of two new free schools that Perry Beeches had been given approval to open.
Nolan and the trust had previously been lauded by Prime Minister David Cameron, former education secretary Michael Gove and his successor Nicky Morgan.
However the fall-out follows a government investigation into financial mismanagement at the trust, published in March, after a tip-off from a whistleblower.
The probe revealed a string of rule breaches over a £1.3 million payment made by Perry Beeches to a private firm called Nexus, which had links to the trust’s chair of directors Nicola Harris.
The firm also paid a company owned by Nolan his secondary salary for providing chief executive services.
A statement released by the trust today said Nolan had stood down to “allow the necessary changes required to move the trust forward”.
“He would like it known that he has thoroughly enjoyed his time at Perry Beeches since joining in 2007 and that it has been a privilege to work alongside colleagues, families and young people in the schools.”
A further statement released to Schools Week read: “The Trust will continue to do its best at educating young people within its schools, and have not been distracted by this throughout this time. Education will always be its first priority.”
The Trust has created a new executive board which includes headteachers from all the schools to ensure no distraction from the core business of educating its pupils and helping them reach their full potential.
A spokesperson added that the trust has had no direct conversations about it being broken up.
A Department for Education spokesperson said the priority now is to ensure pupils’ education is not disrupted.
“The trust has already put in place interim governance arrangements to ensure the ongoing leadership and management of the schools are not affected.
“Pank Patel is working with the trust to secure future, permanent, governance arrangements. It would be inappropriate to discuss matters regarding the future of the trust and its schools at this stage.”