Six things we learned about embattled academy trusts

Two academy trusts that have been engulfed in controversy have been the focus of a public spending watchdog yesterday. Academy officials who are now responsible for Durand and Bright Tribe faced questions from MPs on the Public Accounts Committee. Tes reports

The government is said to be trying to get back up to £321,775 from Bright Tribe because it does not have proof that money was spent on its intended purpose.

Durand Academy in Stockwell, south London, was transferred to Dunraven Educational Trust and renamed Van Gogh Primary in September, following years of bitter disputes with the Department for Education about conflicts of interest and executive pay.

Here are six things we learned about the two trusts.

1. Several investigations being conducted into Bright Tribe spending

Angela Barry, the interim chief executive of Bright Tribe, told MPs that several investigations are being carried out, which have been commissioned by the trust’s current management.

She told MPs that when she joined the trust an investigation into LED lighting and a boiler installed at Whitehaven Academy in Cumbria had been stopped.

She said that she advised the chair of the trust at the time that this was a mistake. It has since being relaunched.

2. Bright Tribe boss says Whitehaven Academy building is in “embarrassing” condition

MPs were told that the fabric of Whitehaven Academy was not good and that it was “professionally embarrassing” that the building had been allowed to get into the condition it has.

She said that the trust’s previous management had taken control of school sites away from individual schools and transferred to the trust’s facilities management.

3. Pupils ‘had to use their phones’ because school’s IT didn’t work.

Retired teacher and former school governer Judy Davidson told MPs that Whitehaven Academy pupils had been forced to use their own phones because computers didn’t work.

She also said that teachers had been forced to pay for their own photocopying. 

Earlier this year Copeland MP Trudy Harrison told education secretary Damian Hinds that the nuclear industry had stepped in to provide computers at the school because of the failings of the multi-academy trust which runs it.

Read more findings Six things we learned about embattled academy trusts

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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