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.