Academy sponsors receive funding from the Department for Education and are responsible for managing either an individual school or a group of schools. Academy sponsors must comply with both company and charity law, and will work closely with each school’s governing body and head teacher to ensure the schools under their sponsorship are operating as they should.
E-Act is one of the largest academy sponsors in the country and was recently stripped of control of 10 of its 34 academy schools, including Dartmouth Academy. The decision to hand back these 10 academies comes as the latest blow to E-Act. Last year, the sponsor was issued a “financial notice to improve” by the Education Funding Agency after the discovery of weaknesses in a number of E-Act schools’ accounts.
To make matters worse, a series of Ofsted inspections led to five of E-Act’s schools being rated as “inadequate” (the lowest possible rating), and six being rated as “requiring improvement”. Following the decision to relinquish sponsorship of 10 academies, the Department for Education is now looking for new sponsors for the 10 freshly orphaned schools.
Whilst the decision was taken with a view to ensuring the academies remaining under E-Act’s control can focus on making sure standards are kept high and improving the remaining schools’ performance, the effect of the handover remains to be seen.
Michelmores regularly advises on all aspects of academy conversions and their ongoing responsibilities. For more information about any of the issues raised in this article, please contact James Eley, part of the Education Team at Michelmores on 01392 688688.