Troubled Bradford school’s finances deterred academy chains from take-over attempts

The Bradford Telegraph and Argus is reporting that many of the academy chains who were approached to run a troubled local school were immediately put off when they saw its finances, a meeting of education representatives has been told…

The Bradford School’s forum met yesterday, and discussed the future of Belle Vue Boys School in Heaton. Bradford Council has been looking at ways to improve performance at the school for several years, with the Department for Education pushing for an academy take-over. This search was heightened after Belle Vue Boys was placed in special measures by Ofsted early this summer.

The school will now likely be taken over by the Bingley-based Beckfoot Academy Trust, the only academy to show any interest in running the school, and yesterday the forum agreed to provide financial help for this take over.

One condition of the takeover will be that the school becomes mixed sex, something that the forum heard has caused some concern with other schools in the area.

A report into the possible takeover said the school faced a financial deficit, partly due to low pupil numbers. Out of a possible 600 year 7 to 11 pupils, the school only has 435 on roll. Estimates say that unless something is changed at the school, it could face deficit of up to £3.8 million by 2018.

Although the takeover will require financial support by the council, the forum heard that the other option – closing the school and starting up a new one, would prove even more costly.

Andrew Redding, the council’s school finance officer, said: “We have been under pressure from the Department for Education for the last couple of years to find a new sponsor for this school. We have had no luck – as soon as any potential sponsors look at the building and the financial status of the school they have not taken their interest any further.”

Ian Murch, Bradford spokesman for the National Union of Teachers, said staff at the school had been left in the dark over the proposed changes. He added: “This is an example of staff reading what might happen in the T&A and it being the first they’ve heard about it. It seems decisions are being made without consultation…”

More at: Troubled Bradford school’s finances deterred academy chains from take-over attempts 


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  1. Janet2

    Belle Vue has been governed by an IEB since 2011 when the school was judged RI.  The latest Ofsted said the IEB, although offering ‘strong support’,  hadn’t been able to raise performance.  Ofsted said the school had received ‘helpful’ support from the LA and Bradford Partnership of Schools.

    The school’s intake is skewed towards the bottom end.  Ofsted said pupils start in Y7 with achievement ‘well below’ the national average.  The 2013 GCSE cohort comprised 42% previously low attaining pupils, 42% middle attainers and 16% previously high attainers.  Pupils progress was hampered by poor attendance.

    It appears, then, that Belle Vue has multiple problems: finances, skewed ability range, poor pupil attitude and attendance.  Funny how academy trusts aren’t willing to take on really challenging schools (there’s an LA school in the Hull area faced with closure because no chain wants to touch it).  Far safer to take on schools which have the potential to improve – the chain can then say their intervention resulted in any improvement (eg Harris and Downhills school).

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