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School's financial woe "beggar's belief"
3:00pm Wednesday 13th March 2013 in News
COUNCILLORS have quizzed senior council directors over financial failings at a school which “beggar belief” and led to its governing board walking out en-masse.
An audit report, compiled by RSM Tenon, found there were insufficient financial controls at Manor Primary School in Tilbury.
The governing board walked out over the report in January and an interim board has been put in place.
Last week, the Gazette published details from the report, after it had been placed on the council’s website.
The council later scrambled to remove the report and a “redacted” version, which had “personal and sensitive information” removed, was presented to the authority’s standards and audit committee last Wednesday.
The committee’s chairman, Cllr Tunde Ojetola, accused the council of a cover-up and said if he were a parent of a child at the school, he would be “seriously concerned”.
Jo Olsson, the outgoing director of people’s services, told councillors: “While of course, parents would be concerned that there were poor financial controls, as soon as that became apparent, assertive action was taken by the council and we’re now in a position with a stronger governing body in place to take the school forward.”
Cllr Ojetola said: “Action taken by the council, or by the Department for Education, is putting out the fire rather than preventing it.
“Things about VAT, it’s basics, a VAT invoice has to have a number – it just beggars belief. This report says some things have gone terribly wrong.”
Cllr Cathy Kent asked if controls put in place after the audit were robust enough, to which Ms Olsson replied: “We have asked the school to evidence that all of the recommendations have been implemented.”
Ms Olsson also suggested the headteacher’s future is being looked at.
She said: “Governing bodies are responsible for performance management of headteachers. Clearly what has happened at the school is a performance management issue.”