26 FEB 2018

Goodwin Academy debt should be written off

Goodwin Academy's £3 million debt should be written off. It is not the fault of the school. I am writing to ministers arguing that it would be unfair for hard-working teachers and students to suffer. I am urging the Department for Education to write off the debt, rather than asking Goodwin Academy to cut resources in future years.

The money owed was built up by the failings that were not those of the school. Hard-working teachers and students did nothing wrong. They should not be made to pay the cost. I held further positive talks on Friday with the school's headteacher Simon Smith, SchoolsCompany Trust interim chief executive Angela Barry and interim finance director Lee Miller.

Angela, the former chief executive of the successful Woodland Academy Trust, and Lee, who is deputy chief executive of the high-performing Thinking Schools Academy Trust, were appointed at the start of this year and, alongside Simon, have drawn up an action plan to ensure the school's long-term future. The new team said the school is set to balance its books by the 2018/19 financial year.

Yet while the deficit will be eliminated, the school will be stuck with £3 million of debt. But I am greatly encouraged following talks I held with the interim chief executive of the trust and her team on Friday. They are focussing on getting the school's finances sorted, while striving to back the students and boost aspiration. I have full confidence in them to deliver what is needed.

The Goodwin Academy has come so far in recent years, with £25 million of investment delivering a state-of-the-art new school building. Now there is a huge demand for places in Year 7. It really is a school transformed. We must ensure we build on its success so far, and I know that Angela, Lee and Simon are working very hard to achieve this. That's why the Department for Education should put students' interests first and write off this debt.


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Charlie Elphicke

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