Academy trust to stop managing Ilford school after ‘very serious allegations’ of mismanagement

The investigation into the trust managing Winston Way Academy is unlikely to conclude before Septemb

The investigation into the trust managing Winston Way Academy is unlikely to conclude before September. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

An academy trust will stop managing an Ilford school after a number of “very serious allegations” were made by parents.

Winston Way Academy, Winston Way, is one of four schools being “re-brokered” which is when the Regional Schools Comission (RSC) asks another trust to run the institution.

According to the Observer, which saw a draft copy of the allegations that had prompted an investigation, the trust is being looked into for spending £1,000 on two hotel rooms for two nights and spending more than £10,000 on Facebook adverts for a free school that has not yet been set up.

The document also said the trust is being looked into after it had been claimed that £99,000 was spent refurbishing a former caretaker’s house and £5,000 was spent on four laptops for management.

In a statement released by the newly reformed Silver Birch Academy Trust board, a spokesman for the group said it has asked the RSC to begin the process of rebrokering with immediate effect.

“The board is committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for pupils and, given the current situation, believes that rebrokerage is the best decision,” it said.

“The trust is working closely with the Department for Education on all aspects of its future.

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“Clearly, all parties work as quickly as possible to minimise any disruption to the school(s) involved and the best interests of the children are paramount.

“(We) appreciates this announcement will raise questions around individual schools. It is the board’s intention to be as open and transparent as possible and to address as many of the questions being raised as it can, but trustees hope that parents will understand that they cannot provide all the answers yet.”

This is not the first time that the academy – which also managed Longshaw Primary Academy, in Chingford, Whittingham Primary Academy in Walthamstow and Chingford Hall Primary Academy, also in Chingford – has been criticised for its financial management.

An inquiry in 2014 raised concerns that the trust spent £26,000 on refurbishing the chief executive’s office.

The academy’s accounts for between 2016 and 2017 also highlighted financial issues and £9.5million of outgoings left the trust in the red by £1m.