Ace Academy Tipton 'using pupil support money to pay staff and plug deficit'
A troubled school has now been ordered to improve its finances.
Money earmarked for supporting pupils has instead been used to plug a mounting deficit at The Ace Academy in Tipton, a report on its performance has revealed.
The academy, which has more than 1,400 pupils, has been rated inadequate by education watchdog Ofsted for two years.
Now it has emerged financial difficulties and a failure to hire a permanent headteacher are hampering efforts to emerge from special measures.
The school, on Alexandra Road, has been served with a ‘financial notice to improve’ by the trust that runs it due to concerns over its ‘large and growing deficit’.
An Ofsted monitoring report said money had been taken out of the pupil premium to help pay staff.
The report said: “The constraints of the school’s large and growing deficit has meant that additional funding for pupils who have special education needs (SEN) and/or disabilities, the Year 7 catch-up premium for literacy and numeracy, and the pupil premium for disadvantaged pupils have largely gone into the school’s overall budget to pay staff costs.
“As a result, these additional funding streams are not sufficiently targeted at eligible pupils.
“An external review of the use of the pupil premium showed that it was having little impact on outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.
“Until the school is in a financial position to dedicate these funds to specifically support disadvantaged pupils, this will remain a barrier to improving outcomes for this group of pupils.”
Several changes in leadership have also not helped the school’s bid for improvement, Ofsted said.
The education watchdog previously accused the school of ‘failing’ its pupils.
The report continued: “There remains uncertainty over the future direction of the school following the appointment of another interim headteacher.
“The trust has been unable to appoint a substantive headteacher after two attempts.
"This, combined with the financial deficit and difficulties in recruitment and retention, present leaders with significant challenges in their work to improve the school.”
However, Ofsted said it had seen positives at the school and that the ‘quality of teaching and learning has continued to improve’.
Attendance levels, which had been a big problem at the school, have also improved.
No-one from the academy was available for comment.