A CRITICAL investigation into Lymm High School was carried out ‘against a backdrop of concerns about the trust’s performance and leadership’, a recent report has revealed.
But the two leaders, who were at the helm of the school during this time, have attempted to distance themselves from the damning findings and have set up a recruitment agency in the north west.
The school’s former principal Angela Walsh, and vice principal and finance officer, Jamie Sheils, have launched Red Apple Education.
On the company’s website, it states the agency is run by an ‘outstanding’ principal and vice principal who fully understand the needs of teachers, support staff and the school.
But this follows a review into the school’s financial management and governance arrangements by the Education Funding Agency following the suspension of Ms Walsh in June 2013, who later resigned in April, and Mr Sheils in July 2013 pending a separate disciplinary investigation.
During the two-day review on September 12 and 13, personnel files for some senior staff were discovered to have gone missing, evidence supporting staff appointments was revealed to be ‘inadequate’ and money spent on alcohol, flowers and restaurants were flagged up as it could be deemed as an ‘inappropriate use of public funds’.
One major concern was raised about Mr Sheils’ credentials to take on the role of principal finance officer as it is understood that he was not a qualified accountant and did not have the equivalent financial experience.
Speaking to the Warrington Guardian about the launch of her new company, Ms Walsh said: “I was head teacher for 19 years during which time my team and I underwent four Ofsted inspections which were all rated outstanding.
“Since leaving Lymm High School we have set up Red Apple Education which offers training, school improvement and recruitment services covering the whole of the north west. Unfortunately, due to legal reasons we are unable to comment on the report at this time.”
The school, which became an academy in September 2012, is now under the headship of executive principal Tarun Kapur, who is contracted to remain at the school until Christmas.
Mr Kapur’s appointment had led to ‘some immediate improvements’ at the school, which was graded as good by Ofsted following an inspection in December.
The chairman of the school’s governing body Kieran Walshe said that lessons have been learned and actions have been taken in the past 12 months.
He said: “We hope this report will help people to understand some of the issues that the governing body dealt with robustly in 2013, and provide useful learning for other schools in Warrington.
“The two senior staff who had responsibility for school finances and audit at this time are no longer employed by the school. Robust arrangements for audit and financial oversight by governors are in place.”
To read a full copy of the report click here.