Directors behind 'Eton of the state sector' Durand Academy boarding school for inner city pupils could face prosecution over accounts


The directors of the company behind a proposal to set up a state boarding school in the heart of the Sussex countryside have been warned they could face prosecution for failing to file their annual accounts.

The warning was given to the Durand Education Trust by Companies House. The move follows controversy over the proposal to establish what has been dubbed as “the state school Eton” – a boarding school in Stedham, west Sussex, for inner city pupils from Stockwell in south London.

The scheme has the enthusiastic support of Education Secretary Michael Gove, who believes it will offer pupils the chance to take advantage of a countryside learning environment. The Department for Education is backing it to the tune of £17.3m. However, it has been dogged by controversy, with local villagers citing an independent financial analysis claiming it could cost double the £22m estimated when it won approval.

The rest of the money is to be found by the Durand Education Trust, set up by the Durand Academy, an existing primary school in Stockwell whose pupils will transfer to the new boarding school. The trust earns income from a health club, swimming pool and residential property near the site.

Villagers seeking to scrutinise the Trust’s accounts, which should have been filed by 31 May, were told in a letter from Companies House seen by The Independent: “Currently Companies House are pursuing the company for the outstanding accounts and the directors have been advised about the possibility of prosecution and penalties.”

A spokeswoman for Companies House said a letter had been sent to the directors on 20 July – normal practice in the case of annual accounts not being filed – giving them 28 days in which to file. Normally, three letters are sent to companies before proceedings that could lead to the company being struck off the register are considered.

The spokeswoman said the case was being “actively pursued”, as the deadline in the July letter had passed and nothing had yet been filed. A decision about what further action will be taken could be made next week. A spokeswoman for the Durand Education Trust said there had been a “slight delay” with the accounts, but added that they had been audited and would be sent to Companies House “within the next weeks”.

Earlier this year, Mr Gove’s department was censured by the public spending watchdog over the plans. Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office (NAO), said the proposal lacked “sufficiently robust estimates of the financial risk of the project”.

A summary of the NAO’s investigation sent by Mr Morse to Chris Wormald, the Permanent Secretary at the DfE, said: “At the point which it decided to confirm funding [for the project], the department lacked sufficient appreciation of the scale of financial and operating risk associated.”

The firm underestimated the cost of providing a boarding school education for the pupils. It is estimated at £1,100 per pupil by Durand, but Melvyn Roffe, the former chairman of the state Boarding Schools Association, said the figure was “ludicrous”.

Sir Greg Martin, the head of Durand Academy, said the costings were accurate and that pupils would only need boarding provision for four and a half days a week as they would be going home on Friday afternoons.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

DT Teacher, Full time supply role, Maidstone school

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We urgently require an experienc...

Primary supply teachers required in Stowmarket

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Geography Teacher, Immediate start, Dover School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is urgently s...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam