A NEW state boarding school could close after a government funding agency announced it is to stop giving money to the Durand Academy Trust, which runs three school sites, including the Stedham school site, near Midhurst.
A letter from Peter Lauener, the chief executive of the Education Funding Agency, to the Durand Academy Trust chairman governors, Sir Greg Martin, gave notice of the Department for Education’s intention to terminate the funding agreement with a year’s notice.
Academies Minister Lord Nash said: “Following much consideration we have advised Durand Academy Trust we are planning to proceed with the termination of the Trust’s Funding Agreement.
“A provisional notice of termination was issued to the trust on July 4 because of serious concerns about financial management and governance. That notice set out a number of requirements.
“The trust has failed or refused to comply with six of the eight requirements we set out to address our concerns. This is not a decision we have taken lightly but it has been done to safeguard the future education of Durand’s pupils and to ensure public money and public assets intended for the education of children are managed effectively.”
The academy at the former St Cuthman’s School, opened in 2014, and has around 75 pupils who board during the week, and bussed down from south London.
Before it opened concerns were raised by parish councils in West Sussex, Surrey and East Hampshire, over pressure on the local road network from traffic passing through the national park, and from coach routes to and from the weekly boarding school.
There were fears of traffic jams caused by coaches travelling on narrow roads via Haslemere, Camelsdale and Fernhurst, or off the A3 via Liphook or Petersfield.
But a bid to expand the academy with more buildings on the site was scuppered by the South Downs National Park Authority, and an appeal over the planning application later dropped.