Government steps in over finance management at Ursuline Academy, Ilford

Ursuline Academy Ilford, Morland Road, Ilford. Picture: Google Street View

Ursuline Academy Ilford, Morland Road, Ilford. Picture: Google Street View - Credit: Archant

An academy is facing government intervention over failures in its financial management.

The finances of the Ursuline Academy, Morland Road, Ilford, are being monitored by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) after it identified “failure in governance and financial management” in the school’s accounts.

The EFA will also oversee an action plan to ensure no funds were previously misappropriated.

In a report published on Friday, the EFA states the financial notice was implemented because of a “failing to operate a system of adequate financial control, leading to irregular payments, the mismanagement of funds and resources and disclaimer on the trust’s 2014/15 accounts”.

The EFA also wants assurance from the school any financial and accounting officers are “fit and suitable” for the role and have the qualifications, skills and abilities to carry out their work “effectively”.

Headteacher Keran Reilly said: “This notice relates to historical issues regarding the accounts for September 2014 to August 2015.

“We have already informed parents of the notice and they, along with students and staff, can rest assured that it will not adversely affect the excellent level of education being provided in the school.

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“The school continues to one of the top performing comprehensive schools in the country.”

In the academy’s accounts for the year 2014/2015, independent auditors Chartered Accountants concluded there had been “a lack of oversight” over financial transactions, but was unable to determine whether adequate accounting reports had been kept because of the lack of information provided.

The auditors’ report also states the school “received loans from an employee to alleviate short term cash issues” without trustees or accounting officers knowing.

All of the school’s transactions will now have to be approved by the EFA.

This comes after deputy director of the academy group at the EFA Jane Cunliffe sent a letter to the school in October 2015 about her concerns over the school’s finances.

A new headteacher, business manager and finance team were appointed at the school last September.

Ms Reilly added the school had been collaborating with the EFA since September.

“I am pleased to say the new team are already making excellent progress on an action plan agreed with the EFA to address the issues raised and that there have been no misappropriation of funds identified. We are very confident in the current and future financial management of the academy,” she said.

A full transaction audit is also required from the school to identify “any further irregular transactions”.

Since December last year, Ursuline Academy has provided the EFA with monthly progress reports and should continue to do so until the agency is satisfied no additional financial support is needed.