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Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by Waterfin, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. Waterfin

    Waterfin New commenter

    It has (finally) hit the local news today that the head of one of the local primary schools has been arrested and is being charged with 2 counts of theft from the workplace. The newspapers cite the sum of £53,000 having been stolen/spent fraudulently.
    How does a headteacher manage to spend such a large amount of the school monies on personal affairs and not get caught out. (He was only arrested after confessing to the governers I believe.)
  2. How bonkers to read that when most of us are teaching, trying to keep old equipment from breaking again, fingers crossed that the boiler stays working and that no one is sick for work tomorrow. Is it down to poor admin and governance? A good bursar wouldn't give you a spare biro to take home without a sign out form, whoever you are. Governors check the books. It is quite straight forward and if these checks were not in place then why not. Think what a school could do with that as an underspend? Smaller classes, repairs, courses, new boiler, supply teachers - so exciting to spend on your school. Spending school money on yourself is mental- maybe they were mentally ill?
  3. Waterfin

    Waterfin New commenter

    I believe you are right. My friend has children in that school and she told me that the juniors were called into a special assembly today and told that their Headteacher wasn't well and as a result had made some wrong decisions, that it was in the papers and that he was unlikely to be coming back to school.
    No bursars in schools that size around here (400 pupils) just the Headteacher and the dept head and secretary with their names on a document at the bank authorising them to sign cheques for school. Annual audits too.
  4. Someone in the office should be overseeing the budget day to day and dealing with the bank. This is true for a school of any size. Heads only have a remit to spend up to a very minimal amount, overseen by an administrator. Governors would have noticed surely by seeing regular budget monitor statements. That is their duty. Every penny is accounted for in smaller schools more so as there are very few pennies to play with.
  5. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Is this the case?
    No they don't! Governors aren't auditors. That's what the LA does.
    There's no reason to assume the fraud would have been apparent in budget monitoring statements. As we know nothing about how the fraud was carried out nor over how many years it's impossible to say whether the fraud should or could have been noticed by the governors, nor to know whether the governors had put proper financial controls in place in compliance with LA procedures. Maybe they had but the head was a determined fraudster who found a way round them. Yes governors are responsible for the overall financial management of the school, as they are for everything else, but are not expected to personally detect fraud nor to check every individual transaction. Governors are entitled to assume the head is honest unless there is reason to think otherwise. There's clearly a failure in the financial controls but you're quick to blame the governors transilvanian without knowing any of the facts.
    Depends what you mean by ‘minimal', but a fraudulent head's legitimate spending authority is irrelevant; the nature of fraud is that a fraudster exceeds their remit but covers it up!

  6. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    Bankers and industry bosses have defrauded miliions and even billions - this sort of thing happens relatively regularly in institutions and is often discovered much later. certainly if I was minded to steal £50K I'd ensure I fiddled the figures well first!!
  7. I have read about these cases and even after 15 years in the job cannot see how someone thinks they can get away with this sort of action.
    Every cheque over a fairly low limit has to be signed by 2 staff at my school. Our accounting is done by an officer employed by the LA who comes in more than monthly to undertake this work. I have to report any expenditure over £2k to my finance committee, who would see from their scruting if I had not done so.
    Do other schools not have these checks and balances in place to protect the school and staff?
  8. The Estyn report for that LA came out today
    Financial services and support for schools didn't come out very well
  9. and the school budget is not the only source of income for a school!
  10. Oh Boy! We are a very small school so our budgets are similarly teeny weeny but I need a second signature on all cheques. My finance officer would beat me to death with a filing cabinet if the petty cash didn't balance and if I spend more than £250 in one shot I need to check with the Trustees.

  11. Been teaching since 1976 and cases of heads nicking money and stuff are very commonplace. What do they say? Power tends to corrupt.
  12. Waterfin

    Waterfin New commenter

  13. katycustard

    katycustard Occasional commenter

    I guess that must depend on the LA, School and Governors. I am head of a small school with a qualified Bursar but I have authority to spend more money without any checks than she does!

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