Stevenage primary school under investigation over financial 'deficiencies'

Martins Wood Primary School in Mildmay Road, Stevenage

Martins Wood Primary School is under investigation over 'deficiencies in financial management', said Hertfordshire County Council - Credit: Google Streetview

A Stevenage school is under investigation by Hertfordshire County Council over “deficiencies in financial management”.

County Hall has taken control of Martins Wood Primary School's budget, removed its governors and appointed an Interim Executive Board (IEB).

Leaders refused this week to rule out staff redundancies to balance the books, telling the Comet they were “considering all options”.

“One of the tasks of the IEB is to address the deficiencies in financial management of the school,” said a council spokesperson.

“This may well lead to changes within the school, but we are confident that the level of resources available is fully adequate to allow the educational needs of pupils to be met and to keep them safe.”

During a November Ofsted inspection, which saw the school rated “inadequate”, some staff had already raised concerns about workloads.

Asked how it could guarantee that any redundancies would not impact on pupils, the school in Mildmay Road responded: “The main focus for senior leaders and the IEB remains ensuring that our children continue to get the best education in a safe and welcoming environment.

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“Issues are being addressed quickly and sensitively to minimise any disruption and uncertainty to pupils, parents and staff.”

The Education Act 1996 allows a local authority to take over a school's budget if governors “have been guilty of a substantial or persistent failure to comply with any requirements”, or are not managing the budget “in a satisfactory manner”.

Ofsted wrote in February: “Governors rely too much on the information provided by leaders and do not challenge the information provided to them."

Headteacher Tom Evans is currently absent. His deputy Andrew Carless has been listed as "interim acting head teacher" since January.

The school said of Mr Evans' absence: “It would be inappropriate for us to talk about an individual’s personal circumstances.”

The school would not say whether anybody had been suspended or disciplined over alleged “deficiencies in financial management”.

"It would not be appropriate for us to comment while an investigation is ongoing," it said. 

"We are, of course, fully cooperating with the investigation.”

For more, read:

Good Stevenage school drops to inadequate over safeguarding concerns