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Hartlepool primary school fails to meet ‘satisfactory’ audit standard

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Council bosses warned ‘they can never let this happen again’ after a primary school failed to reach satisfactory standards in its latest audit.

Hartlepool Borough Council audit and governance committee found Rossmere Primary School had not maintained income records for money in relation to school trips, and there was also issues in breakfast and after school club records.

The school was rated ‘limited assurance’ as opposed to the usual ‘satisfactory’ standard, which meant a number of key controls were not operating as intended and need immediate action.

Council bosses said there was no concern of any financial wrongdoing at the school and they are confident they will be able to report full assurance in the near future.

They put the ‘limited’ rating down to a changing of headteacher at the school, with the new leader only being in charge for half a term when the audit was carried out.

However councillors warned they cannot let the ‘quite rare’ occurrence happen again, and must use this as a warning.

Coun Paul Beck, sparking at the meeting, said: “We don’t want this to ever happen again in this area.

“It reflects badly.

“We can never ever let this happen again.

“I’m glad this is being handled sensibly.”

Coun Rob Cook, who also sits on the audit and governance committee, said at the meeting: “It’s not very good news for Rossmere.

“The change over in headteacher is a bit of a feeble explanation for it.

“It was a disappointing audit.”

Noel Adamson, head of audit and governance at the council, said one of the main reasons behind the falling standard was a change in headteacher at the school.

However he said measures have been put in place to improve standards.

A total of 14 recommendations were put forward by the committee to ensure the school improves to the ‘satisfactory’ standard.

Councillors also urged the importance of communication between school governors and the headteacher to ensure high standards are maintained.

Chris Little, director of finance and policy at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “This audit was carried out when the new headteacher had been at the school for only half a term.

“There is no concern of financial wrongdoing, however processes needed to be reviewed.

“The headteacher and governors have already worked positively to address the majority of the recommendations, and we are confident we will be able to report full assurance on the remaining issues in the very near future.”

Rossmere Primary School were unavailable for comment.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service