Durand boarding school closes down

The beleaguered free weekly boarding school on the former St Cuthmans site at Stedham has closed down after a three and a half year battle by the Durand Academy to build new facilities for inner city children.

Sir Greg Martin, chairman of governors of the Durand Academy Trust (DAT) told the Observer: “Sadly we have decided to close the boarding school because the Education Funding Agency (EFA) wouldn’t give us the money they promised. “We went on for three and a half years and tried our hardest. A dreadful campaign was waged to get the school closed. They stopped us getting planning permission and starved us of funding. It has been a shocking betrayal of the children.”

Campaigners against the boarding school said their fears about its viability had been proved right. Alasdair Nagle, local resident and member of the St Cuthman’s Campaign Group said: “The local community knew from the start this was an ill-conceived project in entirely the wrong location. Our fears about the viability of the boarding school have proved correct. In addition to the waste of taxpayers’ money, I feel most sorry for the pupils and their parents who have been misled all along by the school’s management.”

Fellow campaigner Adrian Hearle added: “I am very angry at the way Durand try to blame everyone but themselves for the failure of this deeply flawed project. In the letter to parents, they accuse the EFA of not releasing any of the £17.4m funding but fail to mention the reason was because Durand did not deliver on its side of the funding agreement to obtain the necessary planning permissions. The St Cuthmans site was always inappropriate for such a large scale greenfield development and if Durand had only spoken to the planners before purchase they would have realised this.”

Midhurst & Petworth Observer

Durand Academy’s boarding school will close

Durand Academy Trust’s governing body has taken the “painful” decision to close its boarding school, blaming government officials for the move.


Durand Academy demands High Court quashes ‘glaringly perverse’ Ofsted report

Inspectorate defends unpublished report that says controversial academy should be put in special measures

A high-profile academy trust has told the High Court a “glaringly perverse” unpublished Ofsted report should be quashed.

Durand Academy, which has two sites in south London and boarding provision in West Sussex, is disputing the findings of inspectors who said it should be put in special measures following an inspection in November and December 2016.

Last month, the Department for Education announced it would terminate the academy trust’s funding agreement next year, following concerns about its complex governance arrangements.

A draft of the Ofsted report briefly appeared on the inspectorate’s website in February, but the school has since obtained an injunction to prevent its publication.


Durand boarding school teachers given until noon tomorrow to save their jobs

Teachers at the Durand academy trust’s boarding school given a deadline to come up with ways to keep it open.

Teachers at the controversial Durand Academy Trust have been given until noon tomorrow to come up with a plan to keep its boarding school open and save their jobs.

The future of the South London-based trust, which has a history of being feted by politicians including Michael Gove, already hangs in the balance after the Education and Skills Funding Agency withdrew its funding agreement last month.

Now, Tes understands that a decision could be taken to close its free boarding school, based at its St Cuthman’s site in West Sussex, as early as next week.

At a meeting held last Thursday – the day before the end of term – staff attended a meeting called by the governing body.

They were told that the boarding school faces a funding shortfall of £500,000, which is felt to be unsustainable.

The staff were told that the prospect of closing the school had to be considered, but that they had until the following Tuesday to submit any suggestions for how this could be avoided.


Durand Academy limps on

A boarding school which has been threatened with closure is to take the Government to court over its Ofsted report.

Durand Academy is demanding a new report into its performance, claiming its results put it in the top two per cent of schools for performance.

But its supremo, the controversial former Sir Greg Martin, who is now chairman of the school governors, is now at loggerheads with the Department for Education, which has said it will stop funding the school in 12 months’ time.

Whitehall officials will now try to find a new sponsor for Durand, as well as ensuring its 1,000 pupils have places in other schools in the area.

They are based at at three sites – an infant and junior school in Hackford Road, Stockwell, and a boarding school for older pupils in Midhurst, West Sussex.

But Sir Greg, knighted for his services to education in 2013, said: “We are disappointed. We will, of course, challenge this decision.”

London News Online

‘Underfunded’ Durand spends more than £200k on legal fees

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.


Controversial boarding academy loses latest planning bid

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.

Hazlemere Herald

Bid to expand Durand’s boarding school is rejected by planners

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.


More woes for Durand Academy: planning application rejected

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

Low cost boarding? Full price boarding school syndrome?

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..