BREAKING NEWS: Academy trust to hand two Northampton schools back to the Government

A trust that runs two schools in Northampton has announced it is to hand them back to the Government after a review of "financial constraints."

Friday, 10th March 2017, 4:35 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:07 am
Blackthorn Academy will transfer back to the Department for Education.

The Education Fellowship Trust had operated Blackthorn Primary School and Thorplands Primary School along with 10 others across Northamptonshire, Wiltshire and Maidenhead.

But today it sent letters to all parents and staff informing them of their request to hand all the schools back to the Department for Education.

Chief operating officer of The Education Fellowship Trust, Lizzie Rowe, said: “The Education Fellowship Trust (TEFT) has requested to transfer all of its 12 academies to new sponsors following a review of financial constraints facing the education sector and the misalignment of values with the DfE.

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The Education Fellowship took over the running of Thorplands Primary School in 2013. A new sponsor will now be found by the Government.

“TEFT’s priority at this time is to ensure a smooth and timely transfer that minimises impact on the pupils, staff, parents and local communities at the schools.”

In total there are around 6,500 pupils in all 12 schools, but a spokeswoman for the trust was keen to stress that no schools will be closing as a result of the announcement.

The trust will be the first since academies were introduced to hand its schools back to the state, though the reasons are still unclear.

The Chron requested clarification of what "misalignment of values" with the Department for Education means.

The Education Fellowship took over the running of Thorplands Primary School in 2013. A new sponsor will now be found by the Government.

In April last year, The Education Fellowship received warning letters in regards to seven of its schools in Northamptonshire: Olympic Primary School, Rushden Community College, Ruskin Junior School, Wrenn School and Warwick Primary Academy.

The academy sponsors were sent "pre-warning" letters by the Department for Education stating its schools would be closed and taken over by a new sponsor if standards did not go up.

The academies have been closely monitored over the past year as a result.

At the time the trust was told if it failed, the Department of Education would end the funding agreement.

Parents of children at the Wrenn Academy in Wellingborough, received a letter from principal Steve Elliott this morning, stating: "The Department for Education released a statement that they would be transferring all twelve schools currently managed by The Education Fellowship, including Wrenn, to new sponsors.

"We have been given no information about who this is likely to be, but have been assured that there will be opportunities for discussion and consultation with the school and parents. Students, staff and parents will see no noticeable difference in the day-to-day operation of the school, including public examinations."