Exclusive: Financial 'challenges' drive academy chain set up by former Cameron adviser to seek out merger

1st October 2016 at 08:02
Floreat, academies, MATs, james o'shaughnessy
James O'Shaughnessy's Floreat Education is looking at options that include merging with another trust due challenges of running a small multi-academy trust of primaries

An academy chain founded by a former aide to David Cameron is looking into merging with another trust due to financial challenges, TES can reveal.

The multi-academy trust, called Floreat Education Academies Trust, was established by Conservative peer James O’Shaughnessy after he stepped down from his role advising the prime minister at Number 10.

But despite recently opening its third primary school, the trust is struggling to balance the books due to the relatively small amount of money that can be top-sliced from a small chain of primary schools.

It is an issue facing a number of primary schools, which are being encouraged by the government to convert to academy status. Smaller primary budgets make it harder for primary trusts to be sustainable.

TES understands that Floreat, whose schools are based in south west London, is in talks with several larger trusts about a possible merger as it looks to establish a more stable financial footing.

One of the trusts in the frame is Avanti Schools, which runs five schools and has a Hindu-based faith ethos.

The merger would be a comfortable fit for Floreat as both trusts place a significant emphasis on not just academics but developing pupils’ character.

'Proving popular'

In a statement, Floreat’s chair Martyn Rose, said that the schools were “proving popular with parents”, but admitted that operating a “small multi-academy trust is challenging, especially when the schools involved are newly opened”.

“Our main focus is on making sure we can continue to deliver an excellent ‘academics + character’ education for our children,” Mr Rose said. “For that reason, the board is looking at what is the best path for Floreat, whether that is continuing with our own development plan or merging with another trust.

“We will continue to work closely with parents, staff and other stakeholders to ensure that the Floreat schools have the best chance of flourishing.”     


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