Full extent of Glendene Academy problems become clear, as the chair of governors is revealed to have resigned, with the principal who appointed him on sick leave - and the whistleblower now chair

 

Education Editor

The chairman of governors at an academy under investigation for alleged financial irregularities has resigned, it emerged yesterday.

In addition, the head teacher of Glendene Arts Academy in Easington Colliery, Co Durham, has been on sick leave since a whistleblower triggered an investigation into its finances, a statement from the academy said yesterday. It also claimed that both were involved in setting up a private company at the centre of investigations into the academy's financial affairs.

Yesterday The Independent revealed that police were investigating allegations of serious financial mismanagement at the academy, a specialist visual arts academy for two- to 19-year-olds with special education needs.

We also disclosed how the Education Funding Agency, which oversees the funding of free schools and academies, is seeking to recover £162,000 claimed to have been misspent by the academy. Whistleblowers claimed the money was used to pay the salaries and running costs of a private company.

A heavily redacted report by the EFA into the academy said the company was meant to help in fund-raising and training as well as pay the academy an annual dividend.  However, the report concluded: "We cannot identify any discernible benefit for the academy in this arrangement; it has resulted in the loss of £162,000 that should have been used for the benefit of academy pupils."

The Department for Education said in a statement that police had started an investigation into the situation.

In its statement, the academy said it had received academy status in September 2012 - and whistleblowers had triggered an investigation into its financial affairs in July 2013. The chairman of governors resigned at the end of that month and the principal has been off on sick leave since then.

One of the whistleblowers, Rob Wright, who was previously deputy chairman of governors, took over the chairmanship on 1 August. An acting academy leader, Craig Platt, and acting deputy, Vanessa Elcock, were appointed on 23 November.

Since then, the academy has brought in an education consultant to assess the position and - although a report has yet to be published - it is understood not to have found any significant weaknesses and reported that the standard of teaching is "good".

Mr Wright said yesterday: "We're trying to unravel complex issues which came to light in the first audit following conversion to academy status.

"I'm confident now that our academy has strong leadership, excellent teaching and - above all - excellent provision for vulnerable and special children - as well as robust financial systems.

"All donations from 1 August 2013 are being properly accounted for and used for the academy purposes intended. Donations made before this are still part of an investigation.

"Much as I'd like to, I cannot comment further while this matter is under police investigation."

News of the police investigation prompted calls from teachers' leaders for a tighter monitoring system of academies and free schools.

Kevin Courtney, the deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "Once again we have a situation where a lack of accountability and democratic oversight has resulted in a police investigation into what we can only assume to be suspected criminal activities."

Labour is also conducting a review of school structures headed by former Education Secretary David Blunkett which is expected to recommend the setting up of a number of sub-regional bodies to keep a closer eye on academies and free schools.

The DfE said the controls covering free schools and academies were more rigorous than those covering local authority maintained schools.

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Newly Qualified Teachers

£90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently looking fo...

Year 3/4 Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Job Share Year 3/4 Teacher...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits