DfE does not know how much academy land it has lost control of

The DfE has admitted it does not know how many academy trusts are operating under funding agreements that completely relinquish public control of state school land. Tes reports.

The problem has been highlighted by the case of Durand Academy, where public assets then valued at £15 million were transferred to a separate organisation, Durand Education Trust, when the south London school became an academy in 2010.

Last November, the Commons Public Accounts Committee heard that while the school buildings had been returned to Lambeth Council after the Department for Education (DfE) terminated the academy’s funding agreement, Durand Education Trust maintained that it still owned land on the school site and accommodation and a leisure centre that had been built there.

Now an academies lawyer has warned that although the DfE has tightened the rules in recent years to prevent this happening again, many older academy trusts are still operating under historic funding agreements that could cause the same problem.

But Matthew Wolton, a lawyer at Knights plc said Durand-style problems could be repeated in cases where the land was not owned by the church or a local authority.

He said there were older such academy funding agreements that also lacked clauses giving the DfE the right to acquire the land at no cost if and when the funding agreement was terminated.

When Tes asked the DfE how many such historic agreements are still in place, it said “we don’t have that information easily to hand”.

The department added that because the issue does not affect the revenue funding of academies, it is “not information we keep in an easily navigable way”, and it would need to inspect the funding agreement of each academy or multi-academy trust to find this information.

Read the full article DfE does not know how much academy land it has lost control of

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