Saturday, 19 May 2012

Brent defends record on school finances monitoring

Krutika Pau, Brent's Director for Children and Families, has written to the Times Educational Supplement after they published a critical article drawing attention to the number of cases of financial mismanagement in Brent Schools, which obviously raised the question of  the effectiveness of Brent Council's monitoring and auditing processes. I posted on this issue recently LINK asking why there was no report from Children and Families on this issue tabled for Monday's Executive Meeting.
I was very dismayed to read the article entitled, “Financial scandal continues to plague Brent Council” that appeared in the TES on 4 May, accusing Brent Council of being negligent in its duty to oversee school finances robustly and effectively.

Brent Council takes its role in ensuring sound financial management in schools very seriously and takes firm action against schools whenever there is evidence of it taking place.

In the case of Malorees Primary School, a thorough audit of the school identified that a number of improvements in financial management were necessary and the current head teacher is actively engaged on making these changes.

Brent has over 80 schools which receive an audit on a two or three year basis. It would be impossible within current resources to audit every school each year. Auditing schools on a rolling programme basis, so that each one is audited every two to three years, is very normal within local authorities and Brent does more than most in relation to school audits and has a very detailed audit brief.

In fact, the very detailed nature of our audit brief is precisely why Brent has managed to uncover these, thankfully rare examples of financial mismanagement that have occurred in the four schools your article mentions, over a fairly long period of time.

Schools have a duty to monitor their financial position on an on-going basis and this can throw up potential overspends that could worsen in the future unless corrective action is taken. In the case of Malorees School, the current head teacher has identified potential issues and is working proactively with Brent Council to take decisive action now to ensure that any potential problems are averted in the future.

Whenever irregularities occur we do not attempt to conceal them but are open and transparent at all times about our investigations and provide appropriate support to schools so that corrective action can be taken.

Yours sincerely,
Dr Krutika Pau
Director of Children and Families

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