Staff at ‘inadequate’ school got huge payouts

A South Essex academy trust which runs a Thurrock school in special measures paid out more than £300,000 in severance and redundancy payments, the latest accounts have revealed.

Accounts for the Ortu Federation – which runs Gable Hall School, in Corringham, Stanford-le-Hope’s Hassenbrook Academy and Corringham Primary School – show that £300,584 was paid in the year to August 31, 2023.

Former Gable Hall headteacher, Ceri Evans, resigned following a damning Ofsted inspection which saw the school rated inadequate by the education watchdog in 2022.

A “settlement agreement” was reached with Mr Evans, according to the audit report. Trust chief executive Dr Sophina Asong also reached a “settlement agreement” with the trust after leaving in 2022.

The Ortu Federation is currently in the process being dissolved, with all three schools being transferred to the Mossbourne Federation.

Asked if the comparatively large payouts were appropriate in the light of the past problems, a spokesperson for the Ortu Federation Trust said: “We are not at liberty to talk about individual cases but in practice payments are either in line with colleagues contractual rights or below and in some cases substantially below.”

A trustees report shows the academy trust was not viable without Gable Hall and it was decided the schools should be transferred to another trust.

Negotiations with the Gateway Learning Community Trust looked hopeful but they fell through and the Mossbourne Federation, based in Hackney, is now set to take over.

The Mossbourne Federation was set up 12 years ago by the late Sir Clive Bourne, who believed the children of Hackney were being incorrectly blamed for the failure of schools and wanted to improve the standard of education.

The Mossbourne Community Academy, Mossbourne Victoria Park Academy and Mossbourne Riverside Academy are all currently rated as “outstanding” by Oftsed – the highest possible grade.

The Mossbourne Parkside Academy is rated as good – the second highest possible rating.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter