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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: MIS Officer - Further Education Sector

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Operating throughout London and...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there