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Troubled Al Hijrah School is 3 million in debt

2015-02-07 00:24:05

Al Hijra SchoolAl-Hijrah school in Bordesley Green

A troubled Birmingham faith school is almost £3 million in the red - with the taxpayer saddled with its liabilities, council bosses have revealed.

Al Hijrah School in Bordesley Green was placed in special measures by Ofsted in December 2013 was previously reported to be £900,000 in debt.

Now an on-going Birmingham City Council probe into the Islamic school's spending has revealed the full scale of its financial woes - with its debts set to stand at a staggering £3 million by the end of this financial year.

The council, which funds the voluntary-aided school, is now working with the school help it out of its financial mess.

A council spokeswoman said: "The overall deficit, taking into account overspending from the previous financial year, is likely to be in excess of £3 million.

"Further discussions will be taking place to determine cost implications for next year's budget.

"This is due to the financial situation we inherited.

"Repayment of the deficit is the school's responsibility although it is included in the city council’s overall accounts."

She warned the figure was likely to grow because the council had "a duty to improve the school environment and ensure the children have access to the resources they deserve".

The revelations comes after the Birmingham Mail told how earlier this week how the council has withdrawn support for a new £10 million school in Small Heath - because it wants to relocate Al Hijrah to the site instead.

Perry Beeches V, which would be the fifth in a chain of highly acclaimed free schools run by "superhead" Liam Nolan, is due to open this September and 263 children have already signed up to start.

But the council is now lobbying the Department for Education, which owns the Talbot Way site, to allow Al Hijrah to move there.

We also revealed this week that Al Hijrah School's interim executive board - parachuted in to turn it around - has discovered the school's former governing body had agreed a rent increase from a peppercorn rate of £1 a year, to an annual fee of £470,000.

The rent is paid to Al Hijrah Trust, which owns the school building, and comes from money the school receives from the council’s education budget.

Meanwhile, the council said it was also still investigating claims that £1 million of public money allocated to the school has been used to fund a school of the same name in Pakistan.

"Birmingham City Council has received a large amount of information regarding the financial status of the school and continues to work with other statutory agencies to identify how funds have been expended,” said a spokesman.

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