Central Devon Academy and North Devon Academy threatened with re-brokerage to new sponsor

The Department for Education has threatened to rebroker Central Devon Academy and North Devon Academy, two alternative provision schools run by the multi academy trust SchoolsCompany, to another sponsor.

Lisa Mannall, regional schools commissioner for the south-west, issued a termination warning notice to both academies on February 16, warning that their funding agreements may be terminated and explaining that she had “already brokered, in the short term, support for the trust through ACE Plymouth”.

North Devon Academy was judged ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures by Ofsted in January.

Problems identified by the watchdog included “ineffective” safeguarding, “inadequate” teaching and behaviour, and leaders failing to put in place “robust plans for improvement”. Pupils’ achievement was said to be “poor”, staff morale “low”, and the curriculum “not fit for purpose”.

“Having reviewed this information, I continue to have concerns about the ability of the trust to deliver the required improvements in a rapid and sustained manner,” Mannall wrote.

Central Devon Academy is currently rated ‘requires improvement’, but two Ofsted visits in September and November 2017 found safeguarding at the school to be ineffective. This had already led to “the removal of all KS4 pupils whose behaviour was putting at risk younger pupils and staff”.

Mannall wrote that she was “not satisfied that the trust can achieve rapid and sustained improvement at this academy” due to a “deteriorating financial position” which has left the trust “with limited capability to support the academies within the MAT”.

She said that the trust will be expected to continue to engage with the support provided by alternative education provider ACE Plymouth for “the duration of the Service Level Agreement”.

“Longer term, I am minded to re-broker the provision, however, my expectation is that the trust will work with my team during this period to ensure that every young person is able to receive access to a ‘good’ or better education,” she said.

Both academies were given 15 working days from the date of the letter to provide “any representations” to Mannall.