The ArgusBilingual school under investigation for 'financial irregularities' (From The Argus)

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Bilingual school under investigation for 'financial irregularities'

The Argus: Bilingual school under investigation for 'financial irregularities' Bilingual school under investigation for 'financial irregularities'

A FREE school which is set to be granted a 125 year lease of council land for its new school site has recently been investigated for financial irregularities, The Argus has learned.

The Bilingual Free School is set to have its long lease of council-owned land at the Hove Park Depot agreed tonight at Brighton and Hove City Council’s policy and resources committee.

The school was investigated by the Department for Education in April after a whistleblower reported “financial irregularities”.

While the report, which was published in April, said there was “no evidence of fraud or attempts to conceal fraud”, the school was cautioned for paying more than £10,000 to chair of governors Marina Gutierrez for marketing, individual parent tours, website development, “uniform research” and stationery which were not tendered for.

The report added that a financial action plan arranged following a visit in June last year had still to be implemented with no formal registers for staff expenses, hospitality or procurement.

The school was granted planning permission for the 630-pupil school at the site last week.

SaveHove campaigner Valerie Paynter said the council had rushed the decision to allow the Bilingual Primary School to use the site.

She added: “They don’t have enough of a track record to be entrusted with this site.”

Headteacher Carolina Gopal said the school was “disappointed” that a former employee made a number of unsubstantiated allegations.

She added: “The payments were made only when the timeframe was too short to follow a procurement process and when the cost of doing so would have outweighed any savings that may have been achieved.”

Comments (6)

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12:03pm Thu 12 Jun 14

LB says...

Paying a governor to do parent tours and do 'uniform research'?

Regardless of any legal wrong doing, in my book you're a governor because you want to give something to the school community, not take from it.

And we're giving these people public land and tax payers money to build a school when they have no controls in place for their existing procurement processes or expenses?

*shakes head*
Paying a governor to do parent tours and do 'uniform research'? Regardless of any legal wrong doing, in my book you're a governor because you want to give something to the school community, not take from it. And we're giving these people public land and tax payers money to build a school when they have no controls in place for their existing procurement processes or expenses? *shakes head* LB
  • Score: 3

1:11pm Thu 12 Jun 14

Goldenwight says...

She added: “The payments were made only when the timeframe was too short to follow a procurement process and when the cost of doing so would have outweighed any savings that may have been achieved.”

And WHY was the timeframe too short? Sounds to me like a problem the Governors should have dealt with earlier- if they couldn't even manage that, then with respect it is time for them to stand down and be replaced.
She added: “The payments were made only when the timeframe was too short to follow a procurement process and when the cost of doing so would have outweighed any savings that may have been achieved.” And WHY was the timeframe too short? Sounds to me like a problem the Governors should have dealt with earlier- if they couldn't even manage that, then with respect it is time for them to stand down and be replaced. Goldenwight
  • Score: 0

2:15pm Thu 12 Jun 14

Quiterie says...

Firstly there is no way the Department of Education would want any more adverse publicity over their flagship "free school" programme, so it doesn't surprise me at all that they didn't take stronger action.

Secondly, as a Governor myself there's no way I would charge the school for any of the things mentioned in the article. That money would be much better spent on the education of the children.

Thirdly, when the headteacher says she's "disappointed” by the allegations she seems to be implying that no fault was found with the school which isn't true at all. The school has been "cautioned for paying more than £10,000 to the chair of governors", it's been found guilty of failing to implement a financial action plan and it has "no formal registers for staff expenses, hospitality or procurement". Surely she should be pleased that these things have been brought to her attention?
Firstly there is no way the Department of Education would want any more adverse publicity over their flagship "free school" programme, so it doesn't surprise me at all that they didn't take stronger action. Secondly, as a Governor myself there's no way I would charge the school for any of the things mentioned in the article. That money would be much better spent on the education of the children. Thirdly, when the headteacher says she's "disappointed” by the allegations she seems to be implying that no fault was found with the school which isn't true at all. The school has been "cautioned for paying more than £10,000 to the chair of governors", it's been found guilty of failing to implement a financial action plan and it has "no formal registers for staff expenses, hospitality or procurement". Surely she should be pleased that these things have been brought to her attention? Quiterie
  • Score: 2

3:23pm Thu 12 Jun 14

saveHOVE says...

There is more to this issue than has been reported here.

The saveHOVE website has a long article with links to the EFA Investigation Report and a condemning Local Schools Network website article, as well as today's P&R agenda report. There has never even been an Ofsted report but BHCC is giving them land and has no problem with how they will also use the park.

Read about the "unsubstantiated" allegations and EFA's tolerant and faint condemnation here:

https://www.gov.uk/g
overnment/uploads/sy
stem/uploads/attachm
ent_data/file/304493
/Bilingual_Primary_S
chool_for_Brighton_a
nd_Hove_IAIT_Report_
April_2014_for_publi
cation.pdf

Disappointing to see Carolina Gopal misleading the Argus and readers by saying the allegations were unsubstantiated. The EFA report makes it clear that most of the allegations (only one reported in this article) were substantiated and upheld. The EFA would not be pleased to see her words!

There is a follow up report due in July to see if they have complied with EFA demands.
There is more to this issue than has been reported here. The saveHOVE website has a long article with links to the EFA Investigation Report and a condemning Local Schools Network website article, as well as today's P&R agenda report. There has never even been an Ofsted report but BHCC is giving them land and has no problem with how they will also use the park. Read about the "unsubstantiated" allegations and EFA's tolerant and faint condemnation here: https://www.gov.uk/g overnment/uploads/sy stem/uploads/attachm ent_data/file/304493 /Bilingual_Primary_S chool_for_Brighton_a nd_Hove_IAIT_Report_ April_2014_for_publi cation.pdf Disappointing to see Carolina Gopal misleading the Argus and readers by saying the allegations were unsubstantiated. The EFA report makes it clear that most of the allegations (only one reported in this article) were substantiated and upheld. The EFA would not be pleased to see her words! There is a follow up report due in July to see if they have complied with EFA demands. saveHOVE
  • Score: -1

4:34pm Fri 13 Jun 14

lovehove says...

I find it extremely irritating that the Argus continues to give Ms Paynter airtime - let's remember this is someone who was threatened with removal from the public gallery at a recent council meeting for her rude heckling of the Councillors.
It shouldn't need to be highlighted that The Argus ought to be fully behind this amazing primary school which is giving Brighton and Hove's very own youngsters the chance to be fully bi-lingual in a 2nd language before they've even started secondary school!
Once the council voted unanimously for the Bi-lingual school's new premises to be built on Hove park - Ms Paynter should have dropped the bone and accepted defeat in her one-woman battle to keep Hove park clear of little voices chattering in Spanish.
Perhaps if the wonderful founders of this school had been shown a little less small minded Nimbyism and a little more support then they'd have had plenty more time to attend to the time-consuming business of setting up financial systems to cover expenses & procurement.
I find it extremely irritating that the Argus continues to give Ms Paynter airtime - let's remember this is someone who was threatened with removal from the public gallery at a recent council meeting for her rude heckling of the Councillors. It shouldn't need to be highlighted that The Argus ought to be fully behind this amazing primary school which is giving Brighton and Hove's very own youngsters the chance to be fully bi-lingual in a 2nd language before they've even started secondary school! Once the council voted unanimously for the Bi-lingual school's new premises to be built on Hove park - Ms Paynter should have dropped the bone and accepted defeat in her one-woman battle to keep Hove park clear of little voices chattering in Spanish. Perhaps if the wonderful founders of this school had been shown a little less small minded Nimbyism and a little more support then they'd have had plenty more time to attend to the time-consuming business of setting up financial systems to cover expenses & procurement. lovehove
  • Score: 0

9:20am Sat 14 Jun 14

Boredofmorons says...

There is so much more missing from this poorly written article like for example it was a former employee who made a number of unsubstantiated allegations. Quite properly, the school self-reported to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) in order to invite a formal investigation in order to demonstrate that the allegations were invalid.
The investigation report states quite clearly: “The review found no evidence of fraud or attempts to conceal fraud.”
The governor they mention is not the same as the ones in other schools who give up a couple of hours a month to attend meetings and drink coffee with other teachers in their free time the school has plenty of those this lady has given up years of paid work to build this school from nothing, working all hours to make this happen there would be no school if it was not for her putting everything she has into it so please don't compare your own "school governor" status to hers as it's not even close.
The school IS happening and it IS in hove park depot so valerie it's time you moved on and worried about something else like perhaps all the travellers living in all the other parks in brighton and get over the fact children will walk through hove park
There is so much more missing from this poorly written article like for example it was a former employee who made a number of unsubstantiated allegations. Quite properly, the school self-reported to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) in order to invite a formal investigation in order to demonstrate that the allegations were invalid. The investigation report states quite clearly: “The review found no evidence of fraud or attempts to conceal fraud.” The governor they mention is not the same as the ones in other schools who give up a couple of hours a month to attend meetings and drink coffee with other teachers in their free time the school has plenty of those this lady has given up years of paid work to build this school from nothing, working all hours to make this happen there would be no school if it was not for her putting everything she has into it so please don't compare your own "school governor" status to hers as it's not even close. The school IS happening and it IS in hove park depot so valerie it's time you moved on and worried about something else like perhaps all the travellers living in all the other parks in brighton and get over the fact children will walk through hove park Boredofmorons
  • Score: 3

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