THURROCK MP Jackie Doyle Price has come to the defence of Ockendon Academy and heightened speculation that the “clawing back” of £1.2 million is politically motivated.
Ms Doyle Price said:
“I have been making representations to the Council on the School’s behalf. Clawback provisions are there quite rightly to prevent schools from hoarding money instead of spending it on teaching pupils. It is clear to me that this is not the case at Ockendon.
“The monies being clawed back are earmarked for the construction of a new eight classroom block which has been planned since January 2009. The Council is fully aware of the school’s plans as it has been managing the building programme – a programme which has been delayed because the builder went bust. For the last five years the schools financial returns were never questioned – until it became an Academy. By its actions the Council is wilfully putting these much needed classrooms at risk.
This is now in the hands of the Secretary of State but I am very concerned about how the Education department at Thurrock council is dealing with funding issues and managing its relationships with Academy schools. Schools are entitled to pursue the freedoms that Academy status gives them and it is not for the local authority to stand in their way. And the council needs to stop moving the goalposts when it comes to funding for schools. Schools need financial certainty if they are to focus their energies on delivering quality education for our children”
Senior Tory councillor has also launched a withering attack on the Labour administrations decision.