School nepotism is exposed

by Lorraine King and Alex Wellman A probe has been launched over alarming financial revelations and alleged nepotism at a school in the borough. Answers to key questions are being demanded by council education bosses about the running of

by Lorraine King and Alex Wellman

A probe has been launched over alarming financial revelations and alleged nepotism at a school in the borough.

Answers to key questions are being demanded by council education bosses about the running of Copland Community School in Cecil Avenue, Wembley, this week.

The headteacher, Sir Alan Davies; deputy head, Dr Richard Evans, and the school bursar, Columbus Odokoro, were suspended last Wednesday.


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In a council document leaked to the Times, answers have been demanded from school governors to key questions including:

* How Copland went into �1million debt to a property company?

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* How the debt to the firm, Chancery Gate, will be repaid?

* Why Sir Alan Davies was paid a total of �403,000 in the year 2007/2008?

* What the justification is for further bonus payments to Richard Evans?

* Why nine relatives of senior school staff have been employed at Copland?

Brent's director of children and families, John Christie, has demanded answers by June 3 otherwise the council will appoint new governors to run the school. The school has been embroiled in controversy after Hank Roberts, a geography teacher, lifted the lid on a bonus culture in the school, which saw Sir Alan, Dr Evans and several other senior members of staff, pocket huge payments.

Brent Council launched an investigation after the Audit Commission passed on the details of a dossier handed to them by Mr Roberts.

Last week, the investigation concluded that 'The council believes there is to be no lawful and/or rational basis for the payment of these sums.'

Allegations of nepotism against Sir Alan and Dr Evans have also been highlighted by the investigation.

Sir Alan's son, son-in-law and sister are all employed by the school, as are Dr Evan's wife and his mother. The document said some of their salaries appeared excessive.

It also states that 'funds which should have been used for the proper purposes of the school and above all, for providing education for pupils of the highest standard that the budget could provide, have been spent on what appear to be unlawful and irrational payments to staff.'

A council spokesman said: "An investigation is ongoing and could take some time."

* The Times has spoken to acting headteacher, Philip O'Hear, and a full interview about his plans will appear next week.

He said Copland will remain focussed on learning and providing the very best education for the pupils.

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lorraine.king@archant.co.uk

alex.wellman@archant.co.uk

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