Search for sponsors as troubled chain gives up its last schools

Trust that had been backed to raise standards in the North is now giving up all its academies

Six Bright Tribe schools are set to be rebrokered

The search is on for sponsors to take on six schools which are set to leave a troubled academy chain.

Bright Tribe announced today that its last six schools are to rebrokered.

Regional schools commissioners will now find sponsors to take on five of its schools in the East of England and its last remaining school in the North, according to the trust.

Bright Tribe was once seen by the Government as a strong performing trust and given a share in £5m fund to create a hub of Northern schools.

However the chain has since been engulfed in controversy.

It gave up Whitehaven Academy, in Cumbria, after school staff asked to leave the trust,  complaining of poor exam results and “dilapidated” buildings.

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison told Education Secretary Damian Hinds at a select committee hearing in June that the nuclear industry has been forced to step in to provide computers at a school because of the failings of Bright Tribe.

The Conservative MP 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.

The Government is also looking to recover money from Bright Tribe.

The Department for Education is said to be trying to get back up to £321,775 from the Bright Tribe academy trust because it does not have proof that money was spent on its intended purpose.

According to a report by the BBC, at least some of the money that the DfE is interested in was given to Bright Tribe for LED lighting by the Education Skills and Funding Agency in 2015. But the lighting was reportedly never installed.

Last month a DfE spokeswoman said: “Where funding is allocated to an academy trust for a specific reason, we expect it to be used for that. We are now recovering funding from the Bright Tribe trust.”

Now Bright Tribe have announced that its remaining schools – Alde Valley Academy in Leiston, Suffolk; Colchester Academy; and Castle Hill Infant School, Castle Hill Junior School and Cliff Lane Primary School, all in Ipswich – and Werneth Primary School in Oldham are to be rebrokered.

Bright Tribe has been under interim executive leadership and a new board since last month. The interim chief executive officer is Angela Barry and Lee Miller is its interim chief operating officer.

Bright Tribe said both have track record of running successful, well-managed academy trusts.

Ms Barry said: “It is absolutely right that Bright Tribe’s academies are able to start afresh. This will be a new chapter for each of them, under strong and well-run new academy trusts.

"It is a very positive step that will provide long-term stability and ensure pupils get the first-class education they deserve.

“I know that the respective Regional Schools Commissioners will want to move as quickly as possible to identify the sponsors, and to rebroker the schools. In the meantime, everyone associated with each school should have confidence that my team and I will continue to make every decision in the best interests of pupils.”

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you