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Deal: Government wipes more than half of Goodwin Academy's £3m debt

By Eleanor Perkins

The government has wiped more than half of an academy's £3 million debt.

The huge deficit at Deal's only secondary, Goodwin Academy, was racked up by Schools Company Trust under the guidance of chief executive Elias Achilleos.

The school is now managed by Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT) who took on liabilities of £2.6 million.

Goodwin Academy in Deal was one of four schools failed by SchoolsCompany
Goodwin Academy in Deal was one of four schools failed by SchoolsCompany

However, annual accounts for the school led by the principal Simon Smith, state the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will now wipe off at least £1.6 million of the debt.

It's understood the ESFA has “agreed they will not seek more than £1 million” back.

The figures were revealed in a Freedom of Information request by Schools Week.

Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke has welcomed the news.

He said: “It’s welcome that after our hard-fought campaign more than £1.6 million of the Goodwin Academy’s debt has been written off.

“This has been a long and hard battle. I raised the matter with the Education Secretary in the House of Commons and held talks with the Schools Commissioner too.

MP Charlie Elphicke with Thinking Schools Academy Trust chief executive Stuart Gardner and principal Simon Smith
MP Charlie Elphicke with Thinking Schools Academy Trust chief executive Stuart Gardner and principal Simon Smith

“I kept making the case that this debt was built up on the Department for Education’s watch – so they should take responsibility for it, not hard-working students and teachers.

"Meanwhile, of course, anyone at Schools Company Trust found to be culpable must be brought to book.

“I’m determined to do everything I can to continue to support local parents and students – and help the ambitious Thinking Schools Academy Trust make this school a huge success.”

The school, formerly Castle Community College, became a high performing academy in 2010, meaning it had autonomy over its own finances. It amalgamated with Walmer Science College in 2013.

Goodwin Academy principal Simon Smith (3284001)
Goodwin Academy principal Simon Smith (3284001)

Just six months later, in April 2014, Ofsted placed the school into special measures, the standards body’s worst grading.

The school was improving again when in early 2018 a staff presentation leaked to our sister paper the East Kent Mercury revealed the extent of financial mismanagement.

It showed a number of failings since 2016 such as not providing accurate and robust budget forecasts, or meeting the conditions of grant funding.

As a result up to 30 jobs were lost.

The Department for Education has shelled out £27million to prop up struggling academies, £4.5million of which has gone to academies failed by Schools Company.

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