TBAP could be stripped of 'inadequate' academy

Termination warning notice is latest piece of bad news to hit troubled academy trust that runs alternative provision schools

Martin George

The DfE issued a termination warning notice to TBAP.

A troubled academy trust has been warned it could be stripped of one of its academies after it went into special measures.

TBAP, which runs 11 alternative provision academies, was last year issued with a Department for Education financial notice to improve after it sought financial support following a failure to set a balanced budget for 2017-18.

Now it has been warned that the DfE could terminate the funding agreement of Aspire AP Academy in Harlow after Ofsted judged it "inadequate".

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The Ofsted report, which was published earlier this month, found the school to be "inadequate" in all areas.

The inspectors found that child protection records are poorly maintained, too many pupils have poor attendance and leaders are unaware of where all pupils are, and pupils’ poor behaviour and attitudes in lessons disrupt teaching.

The report also warned: “Poor relations between staff and the trust are undermining the school’s capacity to improve. Some staff do not have confidence in the trust to secure improvement.”

The inspectors also raised concerns about “an over-reliance on temporary staff”, which they said was because many senior leaders, teachers and support staff are not in school due to sickness absence. 

However, it also found: “Recent interim arrangements, including a second interim head of school, made by the trust to bolster the school’s leadership are beginning to have a positive impact.”

Now, regional schools commissioner Sue Baldwin has warned the trust that she could strip it of Aspire AP Academy following the Ofsted verdict.

In a letter published today, she said: “I would like an external expert to meet with the trust before the end of the summer term to review your plans in response to the concerns raised in the Ofsted report.

“In making the decision on whether to terminate the funding agreement I will consider any written representations you wish to make.”

TBAP’s CEO Seamus Oates is one of the highest paid academy leaders in the country and, according to the trust’s latest accounts, he received remuneration of £195-£200,000 in 2017-18, compared with £165-£170,000 in the previous year.

It is one of 213 academy trusts that the DfE has challenged to justify high levels of executive pay.

Last year, it was also named and shamed by the DfE as one of 88 academy trusts or multi-academy trusts that failed to submit at least two financial returns on time in 2017-18.

In a statement, TBAP said: "The trust acknowledges the important findings in the latest Aspire Ofsted report. We deeply regret the impact of shortcomings on the school’s community and we are determined to make significant improvements."

It noted Ofsted's comments about the positive impact of interim arrangements made by the trust, and added: "The team is also working hard to address the issue of long-term staff absence."

It said that recent Ofsted reports for the trust’s other academies "have been highly positive, with the majority of its academies rated as 'good' or 'outstanding'".

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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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