To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions officials from her Department have had with Luton local authority on the implications of the decision to withdraw approval for Luton Girls' Academy.
All free school projects approved to enter the pre-opening stage are paid a grant to support the project through to opening – the Project Development Grant (PDG). The PDG is essential to financially support the school during pre-opening. Where a project is withdrawn from the programme, payment of the PDG is stopped. To date, Ace Trust Limited has received two PDG payments amounting to £180,000 and the department will take steps to recover any unspent funds.
The Regional Schools Commissioner for North West London and South Central held a meeting with senior officers from Luton Borough Council on 14 November 2014. The department received written correspondence from the Corporate Director, Children & Learning at Luton Borough Council on 5 January 2015 and a subsequent telephone discussion took place on 14 January 2015 between officials and the team responsible for admissions and pupil place planning in Luton to discuss secondary pupil place need and the potential implications of withdrawing the Luton Girls’ Academy free school project. This ensured the views of the council were taken into account prior to any decision being made, and the impact on pupils was carefully considered.
The decision to withdraw approval for Luton Girls’ Academy was taken on 26 January 2015 and communicated to Ace Trust Limited in a letter dated 27 January 2015.