Essex

Bright Tribe Trust: Academies to be transferred by March

Colchester Academy Image copyright Google
Image caption Colchester Academy is one of five schools in East Anglia run by Bright Tribe Trust

An academy trust which allegedly misused government funds will transfer its schools to new sponsors by March.

Angela Barry, interim chief executive of Bright Tribe Trust, told the Public Accounts Committee sponsors had been lined up for its schools in Suffolk, Essex and Greater Manchester.

Bright Tribe has been accused of claiming public money for work which has then been done at a lower cost.

The trust's founder has denied any wrongdoing.

The alleged misuse of funds included work repairing walls and fire safety work at Colchester Academy and work at Whitehaven Academy in Cumbria.

Bright Tribe was founded by businessman Michael Dwan, who strongly denies the allegations that money obtained to carry out fire safety work was used for anything other than that work, and says it was completed to the necessary standard.

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Media captionBright Tribe Trust founder Michael Dwan told Panorama the required work had been completed, before walking out of the interview

Ms Barry told the committee the schools were planned to be transferred by 1 March.

Cliff Lane Infant and Junior Schools in Ipswich will transfer to ASSET Education, Alde Valley Academy in Leiston, Suffolk, will go to the Waveney Valley Trust and Colchester Academy in Essex will go to the South Suffolk Learning Trust.

Bright Tribe is also seeking to hand over Grindon Hall in Sunderland, while Whitehaven Academy is due to go over to its new sponsor on 1 December.

Bright Tribe's Cornish sister group Adventure Learning Academies Trust will transfer schools in April.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Bright Tribe Trust is alleged to have claimed government money for building projects which were not finished

Ms Barry confirmed investigations were under way.

She told the committee: "Once we have those investigations back, if there is action to be taken and there are people who need to be held to account, they will be held to account. What I don't want to do today is to predetermine or prejudge any of the outcomes."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Bright Tribe Trust has voted to rebroker sponsorship for all of its 10 schools

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