THE Guardian understands that the Winsford E-ACT Academy is among ten schools to be handed back to Government amid concerns over the E-ACT chain’s standards.

E-ACT, a charity that sponsors 34 state-funded schools, is placing the academies back in Government control after a series of sixteen Ofsted inspections at sites throughout the country uncovered weaknesses.

It’s the latest in a series of problems to hit the academy chain, whose director general, Sir Bruce Liddington, resigned in May 2013 after E-ACT was criticised for operating a culture of ‘extravagent’ expenses.

In a short statement released yesterday, February 25, a spokesman for the chain said: “E-ACT has been working with the Department for Education to identify where we are best placed to make a significant difference to our academies.

"Our pupils, parents and staff deserve strong support and leadership. Our focus is on where we can provide this and to allow others to deliver elsewhere."

National commentators say the move, which will see E-ACT loose nearly a third of its schools, poses new questions about the academies programme.

New sponsors for the ten schools are now being sought.

Academies are funded directly by Government, bypassing local authorities, with freedom to alter their curriculum and staff pay scales.

Reports into each school will be published later in the week, and will flag up areas in need of improvement.

Winsford E-ACT academy was established in September 2010 as a merger between the former Woodford Lodge and Verdin High Schools.

Its brand new £20 million school building on the site of the latter opened last September.