Harris Federation plans to expand despite funding pressures

Trust incurred £1.7 million extra costs taking on failing school, new accounts reveal

Harris Federation aims to continue expanding to beyond 50 schools

One of the country’s biggest academy chains will push on with expansion plans despite facing funding pressures, its latest accounts reveal.

Harris Federation’s accounts reveal that it plans to continue expanding to beyond 50 academies – through both turning around failing schools and opening new free schools.

The trust, praised as one of the highest performing academy chains in the country, incurred a deficit of £374,000 in 2017-18.

However, the trust’s accounts indicate that it plans to continue to expand.

It says: “Our plans for the future are to maintain our high performance despite the context of funding constraints as we grow to 50 academies and beyond.

“Harris will continue to expand incrementally as opportunities arise and depending on maintaining good levels of performance.

“We will focus on turn-around of failing schools as well as new free schools.”

The accounts show the trust had a deficit of £374,000 at the end of the year ending August 2018 following a deficit of £2 million in 2017.

The 2018 accounts also shows that taking on a school in special measures cost the trust £1.7 million more in capital and revenue costs than the funding provided to it by the Department for Education.

The report said that this was largely because of the condition of the building of Garrard Academy, in Thamesmead, and warned that further significant investment was likely to be needed.

The school originally opened as the country's first ever academy in 2002 and moved into its current buildings, which cost £31 million and were designed by architect Norman Foster.

The report also highlights the rise in national insurance contributions and pensions as increasing its staffing costs.

It adds: “The impact of this is being addressed through several cost saving initiatives including the pooling of resources and a purchasing strategy designed to maximise the economies of scale we benefit from.”

Harris Federation had 43 academies at the end of August 2018 and took on three more schools in September.

The accounts also show that its chief executive Sir Dan Moynihan, the country’s highest paid academy boss, did not have a pay rise in 2018 and remains in the £440,000 to £445,000 bracket.

The accounts also highlight the success of Harris Federation schools.

Of the 20 secondary academies inspected by Ofsted, 19 are rated as "outstanding" and the other is rated as "good", with 12 of 18 primary academies inspected rated "outstanding" and six "good".

The accounts say Harris Federation's performance is “unmatched by any other comparable body.”

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