Monday, 14 March 2016

Charles Dickens School Bankruptcy Cover Up

If your son or daughter goes to Charles Dickens School in Broadstairs, then, like me,  you would have been texted on Friday warning you to expect important news. On Saturday you would have received a letter informing you that the  school, if it had been a commercial company, was  bankrupt; that the Governors of St Georges School have decided to sever leadership support for  Charles Dickens  in July; that the Charles Dickens School governors have decided , with immediate effect, to take no further responsibility for the school budget; and that the leadership of Charles Dickens School (and possibly the leadership  of  St George’s School)  will  evade any responsibility they might, or might not, have had  for  bringing about this disastrous situation, by handing the school over to an  Academy at the earliest opportunity.  A solution which, amongst other things, is  almost certain to cover up  the facts about any  mismanagement or  incompetence which has led to this terrible situation. A decision which is also very likely  to  unfairly protect the reputations of those who might have been  responsible for bringing Charles Dickens to its knees,  but who by evading being identified will no doubt be able to continue working in well paid senior jobs.

So how did this disaster happen? Easy, follow the money as they say. It must cost several £millions a year to run Charles Dickens. The wages bill for teachers and support staff will be equivalent to a medium sized company. The heating, electricity water, supplies and maintenance bills must be phenomenal. To plan and manage this budget the school almost certainly  has a finance team who authorise and record spending using budget management software. The headteacher and the school’s senior management team will regularly review the schools finances using the data provided by the finance team. They will check that spending is in line with targets agreed when the annual budget was originally approved. The school governors will also review and monitor the budget on a regular basis. Between them the finance team, the heateacher, the senior management team  and the governors should have been able to identify and act upon any financial problems before they became so large that they took the school down. But this  didn’t happen.  I can only assume therefore that the Charles Dickens School has been thrown into turmoil by serious  mismanagement which led to the  catastrophic failure of the schools financial management systems.

Yet the letter from Executive Head Kim Stoner and Chair Governors Bryan Mitchell seeks to play all this down. They describe what is clearly and an extremely serious situation as a “challenging financial situation”. They fail to quantify  how big a hole there is in the schools budget and what factors had caused the schools finances to be thrown into chaos. They also fail to explain why it has been decided to hand the school over to a  private-for-profit Academy organisation when this is not legally necessary. I have already mentioned the word cover-up in this post and it is my opinion that the letter sent out to parents is a cover-up by failing to provide answers to important questions.

I have submitted a Freedom Information request  to Charles Dickens School asking  that I be provided with a copy of the financial review report which identifies the problems faced by the school and how they happened,  and that I am provided with documents concerning the decision to transfer the school to an Academy. On the basis of the  letter sent to parents by Kim Stoner and Bryan Mitchell I doubt very much I will get the information.  


  1. Hi Ian, Look up what KCC did to Chaucer school in Canterbury, they let it run up a very large debt and so it closed. it was done because Chaucer had acres of land!! and used the headmaster as a scapegoat... I think Charles dickens will close and move to St Georges site, Charles Dickens then will become another building plot for Land bankers, maybe you can put Mr Mallons bent crooked snout into this trough as well..

    1. You're having a laugh. Chaucer was a basket-case. You need to read the Ofsted report. It's failings had nothing to do with the finances and everything to do with useless management. The reason it went bust was that it got so bad people stopped sending their kids there. The only thing that shocked me on the Ofsted report was that they found behaviour there to be satisfactory. Must have sent a few home for the day.

  2. One question, you could ask Ian, is why alarm clocks were paid for out of the School budget. For those that were repeatedly late.

  3. Incompetent Kent public services again - as with the Ambulance scandal

  4. If this were China those responsible would be held properly accountable, but it's not and they'll move on to wreck another school. The whole situation is nothing short of scandalous, the former head, management team and governors need to tell the truth and take the consequences. The whole situation is nothing short of disgraceful these people expect pupils to respect them when all the time they are lying to them.....