DfE seeks to recover £300k from Bright Tribe

Department is trying to reclaim funding awarded to trust because it believes it was not spent as originally intended

John Roberts

The f40 group of councils has voiced concerns about the new schools national funding formula

The Department for Education could recover more than £300,000 in funding from a troubled academy chain, according to reports.

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

A DfE spokeswoman said: “Where funding is allocated to an academy trust for a specific reason, we expect it to be used for that. We are now recovering funding from the Bright Tribe trust.”

The department declined to say how much funding it was seeking to recover or to comment further.

According to a report by the BBC, at least some of the money that the DfE is interested in was given to Bright Tribe for LED lighting by the Education Skills and Funding Agency in 2015. 

A DfE response to a freedom of information request by the BBC said it had “not received appropriate evidence that this work is complete".

A Bright Tribe spokesman said: “In 2015 the trust was provided with a loan from the ESFA for a programme of works and an external contractor was appointed to complete this activity.

"We are working with the ESFA, including through external assurance, to evidence that the work has been completed in line with the specification.”

Acadmey trust embroiled in controversy

Bright Tribe has been in the spotlight since being chosen by the government to receive a share of extra funding from a Northern Fund in 2015 to set up a Northern Hub of academies.

However, it has since been engulfed in controversy and has announced its withdrawal from four of five schools in the North.

Last year staff at Whitehaven Academy, in Cumbria, wrote a letter asking to be removed from the trust, complaining of crumbling buildings.

Earlier this year, Conservative MP for Copeland Trudy Harrison told education secretary Damian Hinds, during a select committee hearing, that teachers and pupils at Whitehaven had to work in classrooms of 36C heat because faulty windows had to be nailed shut.

She also said parents had to become part-time detectives to find out how money was being spent in the school and that the nuclear industry had stepped in to provide computers for the school because it didn’t have a suitable IT system.

Mr Hinds acknowledged that that it was “really important” lessons were learned from this case. He told MPs that four northern schools with Bright Tribe were being rebrokered, including Whitehaven.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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