Second finance warning notice for Rodillian Multi Academy Trust

A troubled academy trust has been hit with a rare second financial notice and told to bring in business experts as trustees after ongoing concerns about “weak financial governance and management”.

Rodillian Multi Academy Trust, which runs four schools in Yorkshire, has been told it must appoint new trustees that are approved by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, prove that “all possible economies are being made” to achieve a balanced budget and undertake a review of curriculum financial planning and financial processes.

It was given its first financial notice to improve in February 2018 after the government criticised “historic failures” of governance and its inability to balance its budget.

An investigation by the ESFA published in 2017 revealed Rodillian breached funding rules after spending £8,000 for its chief executive to stay in a four-star hotel for 78 nights.

Rodillian’s new trustees must include two additional finance trustees, one risk and audit, one human resource specialist and one educational specialist. The notice said the finance and risk and audit trustees and human resource specialist must be recruited from the Academy Ambassadors service.

Academy Ambassadors “provides a free, bespoke service matching business people and professionals with multi-academy trusts looking to strengthen their boards”.

The new financial notice, sent to the trust on September 29 and published today, warns that if the trust fails to meet the new requirements it will be considered a breach of the academies financial handbook, and may “be considered a material breach” of its funding agreement, leading to “termination” of the trust.

Second financial notices are rare for a trust. In September last year, Engage Multi Academy Trust received a second notice over concerns about weak financial performance. At the time the Norwich-based trust run nine schools, but now it has just two.

Other requirements Rodillian must meet include creating a “revised and accurate” five year recovery plan, showing how it will return to a cumulative surplus budget position by August next year.

The notice also reveals a governance review was undertaken at the trust in July, and said Rodillian must produce an action plan to detail how each recommendation will be implemented.

Rodillian was contacted for comment.