Giles given Government notice to improve its finances
A letter from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) has raised concerns over ‘weak financial oversight, lack of control and direction and poor internal scrutiny’.
In particular, it says the school breached the Academies Financial Handbook by purchasing nearby agricultural land in 2014 under a four-year repayment term to turn into playing fields ‘without the EFA’s prior approval for borrowing’.
Giles Academy is also accused of failing to publish certain details on its website and failing to replace a Chief Financial Officer who retired in April 2016.
The letter from Mike Pettifer, director of Academies and Maintained Schools Group, states: “I recognise the cooperation and extensive discussions that have already taken place between the Trust and officials and the changes you have already made to strengthen accounting and internal financial controls.
“However, my concerns remain in relation to the Board of Trustee’s weak financial oversight, lack of control and direction and poor internal scrutiny.”
In response to the notice, a statement from the Stephen Robinson, the chair of the Board of Governors said that the school’s new head teacher Ian Widdows, who took up the post in April this year, had already made progress to ‘strengthen accounting and financial controls’.
Mr Robinson said: “The Giles Academy is on a firm financial footing and the issue of the notice will not impinge on the day to day running of the academy for the benefit of all its students to enable them to achieve to the very best of their abilities.
“The Giles Academy Trust will continue to work closely with the EFA to strengthen its position in terms of accountability and compliance.”
He said the notice did not reflect on the ‘high quality of education delivered by a dedicated and talented team of teaching staff’.
He also pointed to a spike in the number of notices issued and suggested it was a reflection ‘not only on the critical funding situation that many schools face but also a firm line being taken by the EFA’.