A decision by the Isle of Wight Council to support a motion calling for the removal the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) from its leadership of Sandown Bay Academy was met with applause at County Hall in Newport tonight (Wednesday).
The motion read:
The Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) is about to start a consultation on plans to merge the Sandown school with Ryde Academy. It says Sandown Bay Academy is not viable and cannot be approved in its current form.
Councillor Julia Baker-Smith, who represents Whippingham and Osborne and put forward the motion, was pleased with the result:
“Absolutely 100 percent support from across the chamber. This was so vital, AET have behaved disgracefully towards our children, towards Island children, and it’s time they were gone.”
Sandown Bay Academy is in the Shanklin South ward. Chris Quirk is the Councillor there:
“The parents need to know, and I think we’ve made a very clear statement, that the council is determined to keep the school open on the Sandown Bay site and that the school that’s open on the Sandown Bay site should not be run by AET.”
Debbie Andre is the newly elected Councillor for Sandown North:
“We won’t just put another body that that are going to purely operate financially, because at the end of the day it’s the students education that we need to protect here and we need to keep a school in Sandown and that’s what we’re working hard to do.”
Parents and staff are voicing their anger and concern over the suggested merger.
Meanwhile, the Academies Enterprise Trust has released financial figures to demonstrate why it says it can no longer afford to the run the school.
Following a report by Isle of Wight Radio earlier, AET says figures seen by the radio station are based on the school years from 2011/12 to 2015/16. The Trust says its figures are from 2012/13 to 2016/17, including end-of-year projections.
AET says Sandown Bay’s income has fallen from £11.965m in 12/13, to a current-year forecasted figure of £7.180 million, based on student numbers being halved.
The Trust says that although costs have been reduced by £3.8 million, that is not enough to secure the financial future of the school that it is considering merging with Ryde Academy.
It says figures seen by Isle of Wight Radio in a statement of funds (£440k, £604k and £375k, for the three years to 2016), are actually the school’s fund balance or reserves.
The Trust insists that deficits occur in a year when the school’s expenditure exceeds its income. It says there have been budgetary deficits in 3 out of the last 5 years, including the school’s latest forecast for the current year.
However, Sandown Bay Academy has not made public the level of deficit, nor released those figures to Isle of Wight Radio. It does not explain how its reserves are used and if that money can be used to offset the level of deficit faced by the school.