Call for controversial academy to be taken over by council

Bright Tribe's Colchester Academy features on the television programme Picture: GOOGLE

Bright Tribe's Colchester Academy features on the television programme Picture: GOOGLE - Credit: Google

A troubled academy should be taken over by a council, it has been argued.

A Labour motion to be submitted to full council on October 9 at Essex County Council is asking the administration to sponsor the Colchester Academy via its own multi academy trust – set to be one of the first spin-off local authority trusts to manage schools as an academy sponsor.

Bright Tribe – the academy trust that took over the running of the Colchester school in 2015 – is to relinquish its responsibilties after being accused of misusing government funds.

A Panorama expose earlier in September alleged trust bosses failed to use £750,000 in public money that should have been used to improve the sports hall and its fire safety standards. However the works were not completed.

A motion from Labour says: “This authority recognises that the current governance arrangements at academy schools lack democratic accountability which has seemingly led to financial abuse evidenced on the recent Panorama programme, therefore this authority will contact the secretary of state for education to raise our concerns and demand that a review of governance arrangements be undertaken to ensure schools are once again accountable to the communities that they serve.

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“As soon as the Essex Multi Academy Trust is launched ask the secretary of state to ensure that the now “good” rated school Colchester Academy is taken under this trust arrangement.”

Of the more than 500 schools in Essex around 33% are academies, and 66 per cent are maintained by the local authority.

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It is belived that ECC’s current plans are for an initial pilot involving a small group of schools rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted before opening applications from all schools in the county subsequently.

If all the maintained schools in Essex transferred into the Essex MAT it would be more than five times the size of AET, the largest academy chain.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “We can confirm that work continues on the development of the Essex Multi Academy Trust.

“A Shadow Trust Board is in place which is now overseeing its development and which is independent from Essex County Council.

“We are expecting the Shadow Trust Board to submit an application to approve its establishment in the next couple of month.”

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