Nuclear industry forced to step in at 'appalling' Bright Tribe school

MP warns education secretary that parents had to become 'part-time detectives' to find out how money is being spent

Damian Hinds

The nuclear industry has been forced to step in to provide computers at a school because of the failings of the multi-academy trust which runs it, an MP has warned.

Conservative MP for Copeland Trudy Harrison also said that teachers and pupils at Whitehaven Academy were forced to work in classrooms of 36C heat because faulty windows had to be nailed shut in the school building.

She demanded answers from education secretary Damian Hinds over the problems faced by the school, run by Bright Tribe. 

She also said that the £1 million given to the academy trust to set up a northern hub of academies had “just been spent on senior leaders' wages.”

Ms Harrison told the Commons Education Select Committee today that a lack of transparency meant parents were having to be “part-time detectives” to find out how money was being spent at the school

She said : “There is a 9 per cent top-slice. £10,000 a month on IT when actually the nuclear industry is stepping in to provide computers because the school doesn’t have a suitable IT system.

“£36,000 a month spent on the estate. I know you haven’t visited Whitehaven Academy yet, but it is appalling. Window frames that are rotten. The Health and Safety Executive have instructed that these windows must now be nailed shut, which means there is no ventilation in the school.

Bright Tribe 'absolutely failed in its duty'

"The radiators were permanently on. Teachers and students in classrooms in excess of 36C a couple of weeks ago. And it was the nuclear industry that stepped in because Bright Tribe absolutely failed in their duty to provide a fit-for purpose building.”

Mr Hinds said it was “really important we learn lessons” from this case. He acknowledged that Bright Tribe had been a terrible case for the parents and the community. He said the four northern academies with Bright Tribe are going to be rebrokered.

Ms Harrison also asked if multi-academy trusts should be inspected by Ofsted.

Mr Hinds said that as the system was evolving and MATs were having an increasing role, it was right to take stock and look at how transparency and accountability in the system are working.  However, he did not commit to Ofsted inspecting trusts.

Bright Tribe had been one of five academy trusts which were given Northern Fund money from the government to set up a hub of schools.

However, as Mr Hinds acknowledged, it is now giving up all of its schools in the North.

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