Academy trust in Otley given financial notice to improve

AN ACADEMY trust has been given a financial notice to improve by the Government over its 'failure to balance the budget.'

Janet Sheriff.

A senior Department for Education (DfE) official said she had concerns about the “weak financial position and financial management” at Otley Prince Henry’s Academy Trust, which runs Prince Henry’s Grammar School.

The notice from the DfE’s Education Funding Agency (EFA) says it had been issued because of the trust’s failure to balance its budget, a failure to ensure robust financial management control and oversight and because of its weak financial position.

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However Prince Henry’s Grammar School headteacher Janet Sheriff said that the trust’s budget had not actually gone into deficit and that it had actively approached the EFA to inform them of their budget concerns. She said the challenge of a real terms cut to the education budget - with increased costs not being met by increased funding - had caused the budget issue.

She said: “Members of the community should be reassured that there is no reason to worry about the future of Prince Henry’s. In February we actively approached the EFA to notify them of our budget concerns, share our plan for addressing them and to seek support to action our recovery plan. We then worked closely with the EFA to finalise our plan. A Financial Notice is issued as part of EFA routine procedure when an academy requests support in this way.

“Our notice has been published several months after we approached the EFA and after we have put most of the recovery plan into action.”

It was reported earlier this year that Prince Henry’s could be facing a budget deficit unless some staff reductions were made at the school because of the “real terms cut” it was facing.