Durand: threatened academy trust advertises for new executive headteacher

12th October 2016 at 16:32
Trust advertises the £150,000 to £200,000 role in the same week that a government agency has given notice to withdraw its funding agreement

A troubled academy trust that is facing having its funding withdrawn is advertising for a new executive headteacher.

Durand Academy is offering between £150,000 to £200,000 for the successful candidate, who will lead the school, which includes a satellite boarding campus in West Sussex.

The Education Funding Agency wrote to the South London-based Durand Academy Trust this week giving notice of "termination of the funding agreement", because of "significant breaches" of the deal.

The notice followed a provisional notice sent on 4 July, setting out a list of changes that the EFA wanted the trust to make.

Many of them were aimed at reducing potential conflicts of interest between senior leaders at the academy trust and other companies, including London Horizons, the leisure centre run from the school site by former executive head Sir Greg Martin.

The EFA’s July letter had called for Sir Greg to step down as chair of governors and for acting executive headteacher Mark McLaughlin to step down from his directorship at London Horizons.

But the notice sent this week said that six of the eight demands were not met.

Decision 'not taken lightly'

Academies minister Lord Nash said of the decision to withdraw funding: "This is not a decision we have taken lightly but it has been done to safeguard the future education of Durand's pupils and to ensure public money and public assets intended for the education of children are managed effectively."

But the trust has vowed to fight the withdrawal of its funding, saying in a statement today that it defends the right to make a profit and use the money in the way "it sees fit" to improve facilities for its pupils and the local community.

A spokesman said: "It is through this philosophy that Durand has been able to found and fund the country's only free state boarding school, which is offered for the use of all its pupils."

The statement claims that the EFA has waged a campaign against Durand for a number of years characterised by "half-truths and inaccuracies".

The academy said it stood by Sir Greg and added that it would fight any "slur" on his name or the reputation of its schools.

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