Ark Schools recorded a deficit of more than £1 million in 2018, its annual accounts have revealed, with the academy chain blaming the shortfall on “increased investment” in its schools.
According to its accounts to 31 August 2018, published today, eight schools in the network had deficits in their revenue reserves at the end of the financial year, which the trust was forced to plug with “intra-academy loans” from other Ark schools.
In 2018 Ark had an operating income of £174.6 million, but overall expenditure of £175.8 million, resulting in a net deficit of £1.2 million – a reduction in the £4.1 million deficit it recorded in 2017.
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The accounts state: “This deficit stems from increased investment in our schools including Bolingbroke, Putney, St Albans and William Parker.
“These schools have strong or improving academic results and while they are still growing, Ark Schools has chosen to invest in teachers and teaching resources to ensure they maintain and improve quality as they expand their rolls.
“All of our schools have long-term plans in place that will ensure they achieve sustainability within five years. Ark Schools’ overall financial outlook remains extremely robust.”
'Investing in teachers'
The accounts also show that eight of Ark’s academies had a deficit in their revenue reserves at the end of the 2017-18.
The document states: “Arrangements are in place to support these academies through this difficult financial period by way of intra-academy loans with careful and strict monitoring of the financial budget and performance.
“All of these academies are still growing and Ark Schools has chosen to invest in teachers and teaching resources to ensure they maintain and improve quality as they expand their rolls.
“There is every expectation that over the medium term they will each return to financial stability.”
The accounts also reveal some of Ark’s future plans. The trust intends to take on up to four new schools over the next four years, and it plans to open an “innovative new education hub” in West London called EdCity, which will bring “social and educational benefits to the local community in White City”.
The Ark board has approved preliminary plans for “a new venture designed to support early years student education” called Ark Start, and the trust is developing Ark Curriculum Plus – “a school curriculum programme that will cover all the major subjects, giving students continuity of learning from nursery all the way through to sixth form”.