Exclusive: E-Act to sponsor first school three years after investigation into 'culture of excess'

Academy chain accused of 'extravagant' expenses has cut up its credit cards and received the green light to run Bristol school

Richard Vaughan

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One of the most beleaguered academy chains in the country is to sponsor its first new school in three years, signalling that the worst may be behind it.

E-Act, which runs 23 academies, has taken over Hareclive Academy in Bristol in a bid to help turn the school around after it slipped into special measures in April.

It will be the first school that E-Act has taken on since it was slapped with a financial notice to improve by the Education Funding Agency in 2013.

An investigation by the body, which is part of the Department for Education, exposed a “use of corporate credit cards [that] indicates a culture involving prestige venues, large drinks bills, business lunches and first-class travel all funded by public money”.

The resignation of the then director general Sir Bruce Liddington followed soon after the report. A year later the trust was forced to hand back control of 10 of its academies.

'We didn't have control'

The chain came in for further criticism following a focused inspection by Ofsted in February this year.

But David Moran, E-Act’s chief executive, pictured, said in an exclusive TES interview that the chain was “unrecognisable” from three years ago.

And he said the road to improvement started when he held a “session” to cut up all of the trust’s credit cards.

“I left one credit card with my finance director,” Mr Moran said. “People had become used to the culture…the point is, we didn’t have control. The way money was spent was wrong.”

This is an edited version of an article in the 29 July edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week's TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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