Parents of Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Penrith respond to ESFA

A GROUP of concerned Queen Elizabeth Grammar School parents have raised concerns about the school’s future following the publication of a report by the Education and Social Fund Agency (ESFA) – and the issuance of a ‘notice to improve’.

The investigation was prompted by whistleblower allegations related to the ‘application and implementation of condition improvement projects’.

In the conclusion, the report found that the management of the school ‘failed in its duties’ and that there was a ‘breach in the high standards of probity in the management of public funds’.

The school must now repay £1.5 million and operate under strict financial controls.

One parent said: “We are desperately worried about what this means for the future of the school.

“The condition of the Notice to Improve is that the school moves to join the West Lakes Multi-Academy Trust.

“We previously raised concerns about the seeming haste of the school’s move to join WLMAT.

“Now it seems clear that this is motivated about solving the problem of the outstanding £1.5 million.

“However, it is still not clear how this money will be repaid to ESFA and what impact this will have on the school.

“We have grave concerns that this Board of Governors is rushing to join the WLMAT to solve a short-term financial imperative when we believe this may not be in the long-term interests of this fantastic school.”

The parents are calling for the school to make it clear how they have moved away from the culture that resulted in the issues and say they would like to see all those responsible held accountable.

Headteacher David Marchant said: “Queen Elizabeth Grammar School has received the ESFA’s report and, while we are saddened by its findings, we accept its conclusions.

“We are now committed to working with the ESFA and Department of Education to learn from those conclusions in a way that will allow the school to move forward.

“The Board of Governors is committed to working to meet the conditions laid out in the ESFA’s Notice to Improve and will work diligently to fulfill these legal obligations as soon as possible.

READ MORE: Queen Elizabeth Grammar School parents voice concerns over the future of the school

“Governors will also work to facilitate the smooth transfer of QEGS to the soon to be renamed Changing Lives Learning Trust (currently West Lakes Multi Academy Trust), which is another requirement of the ESFA’s Notice to Improve, at which point the current Trust will be wound up.

“While the School will also work with the ESFA to establish a repayment plan as outlined in the Notice to Improve, it is important to stress that we have been assured that this process will not in any way affect the smooth running of the school, or the learning experience of the students.

“Since I became Headteacher at QEGS in September, I have been immensely impressed by the determination of the staff to always deliver the best possible education, by providing a rigorous academic curriculum that ensures our students reach their full potential.

“I have previously said that we must be fit for a modern world in which we can thrive.

“Working with the ESFA, staff, students and parents, we will only add to the purposeful progress we’ve already made together in achieving our vision of preparing our students to be highly successful young adults, ready to challenge and engage with the world around them and ready for their next step in life.”

READ MORE: Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Penrith set to join West Lakes Multi-Academy Trust

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