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Academy trust accused of abandoning vulnerable students

UNIONS accused an academy trust of abandoning vulnerable students today amid looming cuts.

The TBAP multi-academy trust is expected to severely cut its budget.

The trust, which runs schools for children excluded from mainstream education in London, Essex, Cambridgeshire and the north-west, has stood accused of gross financial mismanagement.

The current financial plans are to remove over £2.5 million from their budget. This would be a 14.4 per cent cut to overall operations.

Unison, who represent school support staff at TBAP, have formally addressed their concerns in a letter to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) about the management of funds at the trust.

The ESFA issued the trust with a formal warning in January, and has now forced the financial notice to improve management, control and governance in all its schools.

Furthermore, Unison and other unions are expressing concerns that the Department for Education (DfE) has continued to allow the trust to take on new schools – despite already knowing that the trust was embroiled in financial turmoil.

This has led unions to claim that the educational potential of pupils could be severely damaged, as well as unnecessarily place vital jobs at risk and lead to serious pay cuts.

Unison’s education head Jon Richards urged the ESFA to fully investigate the trust.

“This looks like yet another fiasco over how academies are run, and it raises more questions about what the ESFA does when it knows there is a problem,” he said.

“The ESFA must ensure that pupils are protected and staff don’t see their jobs cut because of financial mistakes made by the trust.”

GMB national officer Karen Leonard said: “Severe cuts would mean vulnerable children losing desperately needed support, violent incidents could increase, and staff will no doubt be fearful that they will lose their jobs.

"Sadly we are at risk of further episodes like this until the government clamps down on multi-academy trust finances to protect the money that is meant for children’s education.”

National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney added: “The Department for Education must act quickly to put effective controls on multi-academy trusts and prevent mismanagement like this.”

TBAP were not immediately available for comment at the time of going to press.

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