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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Imperial College London: Safety Training Administrator

£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...

University College London: Client Platform Support Officer

£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...

Guru Careers: Instructional Designer / e-Learning Designer

£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...

Recruitment Genius: Schools Education & Careers Executive

£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...

Day In a Page

Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world