Academy trust’s financial accounts say Durand was in talks with the Education Funding Agency over the termination of its funding agreement
An embattled academy trust that is fighting the Department for Education’s efforts to end its funding – and claims it has suffered “underfunding” – spent more than £200,000 on legal fees last year, its latest accounts show.
Durand Academy Trust (DAT), which operates a primary phase on two sites in south London, as well as a boarding site, St Cuthman’s, in West Sussex, has been at the centre of controversy over the pay of former headteacher Sir Greg Martin (pictured), and concerns about conflicts of interest in its complex management structure.
It has had a long-running battle with the Education Funding Agency (EFA), which announced last October it was going to terminate Durand’s funding agreement. The trust says, in its accounts for 2015-16 – published on the Companies House website today – that it has been underfunded by the EFA.
The accounts also reveal that DAT spent £209,911 on legal and professional fees in 2015-16, compared with £164,533 the year before.
Its spending on unspecified “other governance costs” increased to £233,818 in the same period, up from £94,102 the year before.
THE South Downs National Park Authority has refused to give permission to erect temporary teaching and boarding accommodation to an application made by St Cuthman’s School, in Stedham.
The SDNPA felt the proposed accommodation and classroom structures would have an unacceptable visual impact on the surrounding landscape character due to its scale and appearance as well as on adjacent listed buildings.
The planning authority stated there was no clear and convincing justification or public benefits for the proposals or the loss of the Coach House.
Anne Reynolds, from Woolbeding with Redford Parish Council, Stephen McGairl from the St Cuthman’s Campaign Group and Eddie Lintott, from Stedham with Iping Parish Council, each made speeches on behalf of the local community against the application. Durand Academy did not provide anyone to speak in support of its plans.
Planning committee deals another blow to Durand
Troubled academy trust Durand has suffered another blow after a planning application that would have allowed it to expand its boarding school was rejected.
Members of the South Downs National Park Authority’s planning committee yesterday turned down Durand Academy’s application for temporary buildings for 48 students and two teachers at the Durand Academy Boarding School in Midhurst.
It is yet another setback for the trust, which was last month hit by the Education Funding Agency’s decision to withdraw its funding after it refused to comply with demands aimed at reducing potential conflicts of interest.
Plans for temporary classrooms and a boarding house at the Durand Academy’s weekly boarding school in Stedham were thrown out by the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) today (Thursday, 10 November 2016).
Planning committee members said with little evidence of a long term masterplan, they were concerned about allowing ‘utilitarian’ temporary buildings in a sensitive setting.
Durand wanted to demolish the listed Coach House and replace it with a two storey prefabricated boarding house. It also wanted to put two single storey teaching blocks on hard surface sports courts for 48 more pupils in years 9 to 11 for five years while longer term plans were developed Three objectors to the proposal at the former St Cuthman’s School spoke, but there was no-one from Durand to support it.
Midhurst and Petworth Observer
Saddle your steed, Sir Greg Martin, overpaid superhead, and gallop out of our schools.
Fiona Miller writing in The Guardian. Article includes references to the low-cost Durand academy boarding school in Sussex: “[…] the trust had bought and opened a low-cost boarding school in West Sussex. This school still lacks the planning permission needed to adequately educate its secondary age pupils, who are bussed in each week from Lambeth, south London..
Another letter to Ms Greening, on 1 August, states that Sir Greg had aimed to base Durand’s free boarding school at the site of Stanbridge Earls, a boarding school in Hampshire that closed in 2014 after a series of claims of sexual bullying by pupils.
As TES revealed, Sir Greg recently appointed Stanbridge Earls’ former deputy headteacher, Grant Taylor, to become Durand’s head of boarding, while Mr Taylor is subject to a professional conduct inquiry.