School 'at risk' after scam
click to enlarge
SUSPENDED: Kevin Jones, headteacher at St Joseph's, was one of three senior staff members suspended when an investigation into the scam was launched
- St Joseph's School IT scam investigation handed over to officer to determine action
- Future of financially-crippled school is saved after SOS call answered
- UPDATE: Teachers at St Joseph's School suspended after being stung by IT scam
- Headteacher and senior staff suspended after school IT scam
- Pupils have stories printed at British library
A DAMNING report has revealed a school faces losing £1.4m after being stung by an IT scam - casting doubt over its future 'viability'.
A special investigation was launched by Slough Borough Council into the financial management at St Joseph's Catholic School after Kevin Jones, headteacher, Victor Crewes, bursar, and Hannah O'Toole, head of IT, were suspended in March.
The school, in Shaggy Calf Lane, was hit by a national scam that dupes staff into signing up to pricey, mis-sold lease agreements for IT equipment, which they believed was free.
However the alarming independent audit, presented to the council's audit and risk committee last week, revealed the school breached Department for Education legislation by signing up for eight finance leases.
They could cost the school £1.4m - more than a quarter of its annual budget.
Father Kevin O'Driscoll, chair of governors, said: "The internal audit report from the council formalises and clarifies some of the concerns we had which led to the action earlier this year.
"We are grateful for the report as it helps us put in place systems so this can never happen again."
The report ruled the current financial controls in place are inadequate and made 15 recommendations, agreed by the school, to reshape its financial management system.
However it also revealed a number of procedures had been broken - including informing the council of any expenditure more than £60,000.
Invoices totalling £300,000 had been approved by an inappropriate level of authority.
The school's budget for 2011/12 was £4.05m, of which £3.2m was for staff costs, and the report added: "This will have a significant impact on the future viability of the school."
However Father O'Driscoll maintained the incident has not impacted on pupils' education.
He added: "The education of the children remains our priority and we are all working to ensure this issue doesn't impact on the learning of our young people."
The council confirmed its financial officers are continuing to offer legal help.
An internal investigation is still ongoing.
This article appeared in Slough Observer 22 Jun 12
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Jun 23, 00:00
Right. I'm fed up of this newspaper never posting positive articles about my school. We have been great ambassador's for Slough and I truly believe we outshine the rest of the schools in the area with our communal feeling thoughout the school involving pupils and staff.
Why is it then the school are suddenly delved into a situation which nobody could have predicted we suddenly get coverage? What about all the amazing events and activities that take place in addition to being an incredibly charitable school!
I wish for you to publish more positive articles about the school as the negative articles being posted, not only about the school, but in the paper in general are damaging to the morales of the people of Slough. I'm truly ashamed to be involved in an area such as Slough when the positives are overlooked in favour of the negatives!
Recommend? Yes 22 No 3