Wigan secondary school faces funding threat

The high school has been given a warning that funding may be terminated if standards do not improve.

Dean Trust Wigan has been told in a Department for Education letter that financial agreements for academies can be terminated by the education minister if special measures or significant improvement are required.

And Carol Gray the regional schools commissioner who wrote the letter, told leaders that she had concerns about educational standards at the Greenhey school.

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Dean Trust WiganDean Trust Wigan
Dean Trust Wigan

Leaders also said significant improvements had taken place since Ofsted deemed Dean Trust Wigan to be inadequate in April 2020.

An inspection in March this year looking at whether or not Dean Trust Wigan was providing an adequate education during the Covid-19 pandemic was broadly more positive.

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But the letter to the trust said the limited scope of that visit meant the worries about last year’s damning verdict remained.

Ms Gray wrote: “I need to be satisfied that this academy can achieve significant and rapid improvement.

Dean Trust CEO Tarun KapurDean Trust CEO Tarun Kapur
Dean Trust CEO Tarun Kapur

“I am concerned that the challenges of Covid around attendance levels and pupils’ learning negatively impact the rapid and sustained improvement needed at the school.

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“It will be helpful to better understand the trust’s capacity and seek further detail from you on the school’s recovery strategy and how this aligns with the school’s wider improvement strategy.

“As a result, after having temporarily postponed intervention due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on education provisions, and the aforementioned inspection on 2 March 2021,

“I am now issuing this Termination Warning Notice.”

However, Dean Trust CEO Tarun Kapur hit back strongly, saying the academy had been “successfully taking action over the last 15 months to improve the school during the pandemic” and was “delighted” by Ofsted’s recent feedback.

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He also questioned the effect of publishing the termination warning notice.

Mr Kapur said: “Whilst the trust is fully cognisant of the requirement to publish a termination warning notice following a grade four category, this goes against the basic principles of education that we aspire to, which is that if a child is struggling we provide support and encouragement as opposed to admonishment, which simply serves to demotivate them.”

The Association of School and College Leaders also said support was more helpful than public tickings-off for establishments which are struggling.

Last year’s inspection by Ofsted found numerous areas for improvement at Dean Trust Wigan, including better pupil behaviour and attendance, more help for pupils with special educational needs, and filling gaps in the knowledge of older pupils so they could get higher grades in GCSE exams.

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The school was given 15 working days to make its representations about the potential termination of its funding.

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