Devon County Council statement
DEVON County Council's statement in full:
The governors of West Exe Technology College in Exeter and senior officials from Devon County Council are considering a detailed audit report into the school's finances.
The audit was ordered by Devon's Head of Education, Sue Clarke, following a range of concerns, including levels of senior management pay at the college.
The audit ran in tandem with the governors' own independent review of senior pay.
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Former executive headteacher Steve Maddern and senior deputy head Beverley Maddern both left the school last term.
The detailed audit report was presented to school governors last week.
It highlights an 'unhealthy culture' where there was insufficient professional distance between Mr Maddern and the former chair of governors, Paul Smith.
It recommends a raft of actions covering governors' oversight of senior pay, performance management, staff appointments, staff absence and procurement.
The audit report concludes: "It is clearly evident that the (current) governors wholeheartedly support the college and have good intentions.
"This is particularly evident from the vice chair and chair of management services who have been very open and clear in their understanding of the issues, have recently challenged the college and are key to the instigation of this current review.
"However, in our view, governors have previously acted with some degree of naivety and without adequate support and training from the college."
Mrs Clarke paid tribute to West Exe's new chairman of governors, Peter Scott, who originally called for the review of senior staff pay last year, when he was vice chairman, with the chair of management services, Chris Harris-Deans.
A move for the school to convert to an academy was subsequently put on hold.
Mrs Clarke said the two men's actions had helped initiate a series of much-needed reforms at the school.
Mr Scott and Mrs Clarke said: "We are grateful to the staff at West Exe who have cooperated fully with the audit and enabled a detailed and comprehensive report to be produced.
"Indeed they have welcomed the opportunity to work with the new board of governors.
"The audit report highlights governance practice which can be significantly improved.
"The governors and local authority began working with staff at the school to make improvements in the last academic year, even before the report was finalised, but it will now crystallise the further work we have to do.
"We have decided to make these audit conclusions publicly available because this concerns the spending of public money by public employees.
"We must demonstrate very clearly that lessons have been learnt and we must do that with complete transparency."
Mr Scott said: "The changes we have already put into place clearly ensure we demonstrate a culture of honesty, openness and trust in West Exe Technology College.
"The staff have been very supportive throughout the last few months and really want West Exe to move forward with the new approach.
"We are working closely with Devon County Council to ensure that all governance requirements are met and to strengthen the work of the school in many areas."
Acting headteacher Vicki Carah said: "Whilst we are very aware of the challenges which lie ahead, we are also very pleased with the progress which has already been made, with the excellent results West Exe achieved this year and with the extremely calm and purposeful start made to this school year.
"I want to thank our parents and the wider community for their patience and commitment to the school through this investigation and hope that they, like us, will feel that West Exe is now focused on the most important task of educating our students without distraction."