09:00AM, Friday 26 January 2018
A failing chain of academy schools could leave the Royal Borough saddled with a £100,000 debt.
The Education Fellowship Trust (EFT), which runs Desborough College, in Shoppenhangers Road, is seeking to offload all 12 of the schools it has across the country.
According to the council’s latest 2017/18 budget report for education, the borough risks being left with the ‘bad debt’ and is seeking advice from the Department for Education (DfE).
Kevin McDaniel, the borough’s director of children's services, said: "When the trust was set up the budget moved over too.
"Post 2010, when Good schools were moving to trusts, in many cases the trust contract was set up and if there was already a deficit condition loans were made.
"It happened often across the country.
"EFT is a multi academy trust which has been subject to scrutiny by the DfE and we’ve been advised that Desborough College is going to be released by EFT and we’ve been asked to confirm how much is owed.
"We didn’t think it was fair for that debt to fall on other local schools."
Speaking to the Royal Borough’s Schools Forum on Tuesday, January 16, he also told members he thought it would be unfair if the council was lumbered with the debt due to ‘mismanagement by an academy trust’.
According to its website, EFT has requested to dump its 12 schools ‘following a review of current financial constraints facing the education sector and the misalignment of values with the DfE’.
Desborough College was rated Good in all areas at its last Ofsted inspection in 2014.
Cllr Natasha Airey (Con, Park), cabinet member for children’s services, said the council had told the Regional Schools Commissioner for the South East it supported Desborough College becoming an independent academy and wants EFT to repay the loan as originally agreed.
She added the schools budget was ‘not hinging’ on the money being repaid.
When contacted by the Advertiser, a spokesman for EFT denied knowledge of the loan and advised contacting the DfE.
At the time of going to press the DfE was yet to respond to request for comment.
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