TES has established that 21 out of the 26 investigations and reviews into academy finances and governance completed by the DfE’s Education Funding Agency have been triggered by whistleblowers rather than official checks.
Below is a list of all those inquiries and explanations about how they came about:
Al-Madinah Free School – whistleblower
The trust was investigated in October 2013 after a whistleblower made claims of financial irregularities and safeguarding concerns. The trust’s secondary in Derby closed as a result.
Barnfield Federation – whistleblower
The trust in Bedfordshire was investigated in February 2014 after a whistleblower made “serious allegations” that it was claiming £1 million for “ghost students” and had spent £1.25 million on failed projects. The investigation found “significant financial irregularities”.
Barnsley Academy – whistleblower
The trust was investigated in May 2014 after allegations of misuse of credit cards and a lack of internal controls. The EFA did not find a wide misuse of academy funding.
Discovery New School – EFA-triggered
Both the EFA’s own monitoring process and Ofsted inspections identified issues with the viability and governance of the school in West Sussex. It was closed down in 2014.
The Bilingual Primary School, Brighton and Hove – whistleblower
The trust was investigated in April 2014 after allegations of financial irregularities. No action was taken.
Cuckoo Hall Academies Trust – whistleblower
The trust in north London was investigated in February 2015 after it was alleged that it had not carried out security checks on staff and there were conflicts of interest, such as a family member of an executive head being recruited to the school. The investigation found evidence of serious breaches of the trust’s funding agreement and it was served with a financial notice to improve as a result.
Dorrington Academy Trust – whistleblower
The trust in Birmingham was investigated in January 2015 after the EFA received anonymous allegations of financial irregularity and fraud. No action was taken.
E-Act – whistleblower
One of England’s biggest MATs was investigated in March 2013 over concerns raised by a whistleblower about expenses and procurement. Director-general Sir Bruce Liddington resigned a month later.
The Education Fellowship Trust – EFA-triggered
The trust, which has schools in Northamptonshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire, was investigated amid concerns over conflicts of interest and expenses during 2013. The review found an absence of oversight by the board of trustees and control at the trust level.
EMLC Academy Trust – EFA triggered
The EFA’s risk-analysis division carried out a review in June 2014 owing to concerns around conflicts of interest at the trust, which has schools in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire. It identified outstanding issues in relation to corporate structure.
Glendene Arts Academy – whistleblower
The trust, in County Durham, was investigated in March 2013 after allegations that academy funds were being used to pay the salaries of employees at a separate company. The police investigated the possibility of fraud but the case was dropped.
Guru Nanak Sikh Academy – whistleblower
The west London trust was investigated in January 2014 after allegations that a mortgage was secured against the academy trust’s land to purchase property worth £1.4 million. The issue was reported to police, but no action was taken.
Kings Science Academy – whistleblower
The trust in Bradford was investigated in December 2012 after allegations of financial irregularities. Three staff, including the school’s founder, were convicted of fraud last month.
Leverton Church of England Academy – whistleblower
The trust in Nottinghamshire was investigated in July 2014 following allegations from a whistleblower. The investigation found that irregularities had occurred and that some requirements of the Academies Financial Handbook were breached.
Lymm High School Academy Trust – whistleblower
The trust in Cheshire was investigated in September 2013 after a whistleblower made allegations, including at least one directly to the secretary of state, raising fears over financial impropriety. The resulting investigation identified a number of control weaknesses and specific issues in relation to expenditure.
North East Wolverhampton Academy – whistleblower
Allegations were made during the 2014-15 academic year that the trust was claiming government funding for students who were enrolled elsewhere. The investigators were satisfied there was no impropriety.
Oldfield Academy Trust – EFA-triggered
In April 2014 the EFA reviewed the trust’s governance after parents complained to Ofsted. It found governance at the academy was weak.
Oldknow Academy – whistleblower
The trust was investigated in June 2014 when it became embroiled in the so-called Trojan Horse scandal, after an anonymous letter was sent to Birmingham Council. The principal was banned from the classroom.
Park View Academy Trust – whistleblower
The Birmingham trust was named as the “incubator” for the alleged Trojan Horse plot. It was taken over by a new sponsor, called Core Education Trust, following the controversy.
Perry Beeches Academies Trust – whistleblower
In September 2015, the EFA was informed about concerns over the trust’s financial management and governance. Trust chief executive Liam Nolan resigned after the investigation’s findings were published.
Phoenix Family of Schools – whistleblower
The Lincolnshire trust was investigated in August 2014 after allegations of governance issues and financial irregularities. The EFA found conflicts of interest and areas of weaknesses within the trust’s systems and controls.
Priory Federation of Academies Trust – EFA triggered
In March 2012, the Lincolnshire trust was audited by the EFA, which found that the financial management had not been of a standard necessary for an organisation of its size.
Quintin Kynaston School – whistleblower
The EFA investigated the north London school in October 2012 after receiving allegations from academy staff of financial impropriety. Principal Jo Shuter was banned for life from teaching.
Sawtry Community College – whistleblower
The EFA received allegations in June 2014 of issues around financial management and governance, centring on alleged inappropriate use of funds and unjustified personal salary increases by the principal at the time. The school, based in Cambridgeshire, was placed into special measures a month later and principal James Stewart resigned.
Silver Birch Academy Trust – whistleblower
An April 2014 report stated that the EFA had received allegations of financial impropriety from two whistleblowers. The investigation did not identify fraudulent action by the east London trust but identified concerns in relation to poor procurement practice.
Westfield Academy – whistleblower
In January and March 2014, the EFA received allegations regarding financial management and governance. It found no evidence of impropriety, but did find weaknesses at the Watford academy.
To read the full reports, visit the Education Funding Agency’s website