The government is eager not to 'scare off' potential suitors for Perry Beeches schools

Officials are moving cautiously for fear of putting off new sponsors for schools in the scandal-hit Perry Beeches Academy Trust, TES has learned

Richard Vaughan

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The Perry Beeches academy chain in Birmingham is likely to be broken up after a Department for Education investigation found serious financial mismanagement.

The news comes as the trust issued a statement on Wednesday announcing the resignation of Liam Nolan as executive headteacher.

Mr Nolan had previously stepped down from his position as chief executive of Perry Beeches following a DfE probe, which found that he had been paid a "second salary" of £160,000 on top of his £120,000 pay packet as executive head.  

According to the department’s financial report, the trust made undisclosed payments to a private company, Nexus Schools Ltd, for Mr Nolan’s chief executive officer role, which he then reclaimed through a private company, Liam Nolan Ltd.

The academy chain, which was once praised by prime minister David Cameron, is now expected to be divided up, with at least two of its five schools being handed to new sponsors.

'Rebrokering' a deal

However, officials within the department are eager not to spook any potential suitors for the schools.

"There will be schools that will have to be rebrokered, but we don’t want to scare people off from the process by saying too much. A sponsor had been linked earlier in the year and they were scared off from the process," a DfE source told TES.

It is understood that the Ark chain could be lined up to take over one of the schools, as it already has a strong presence in the area. Reach2, the country's biggest primary academy chain, is also thought to be in the frame.

According to The Guardian, the trust has also racked up debts of around £1.8 million, which are said to be rising by tens of thousands of pounds every day.

Plans by the trust to establish two more schools, Perry Beeches Primary I and Perry Beeches VI have been placed on "pause" by schools minister Lord Nash.

The scandal has also led to the resignation of the board, which has been replaced with a "transition board of trustees".

In its statement confirming Mr Nolan’s resignation, Perry Beeches said: "The trust has been working closely with the Education Funding Agency [EFA] in relation to concerns surrounding governance and financial irregularities following last year's investigation and financial notice to improve. An action plan has been put in place with the support of the EFA to address all concerns."

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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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