Cops study fraud claim

Dame Mo Brennan

Dame Mo Brennan

First published in News Stourbridge News: Photograph of the Author by

COPS have been called in to examine fraud allegations at a borough school after an investigation by Dudley Council.

The alleged irregularities in registers at Hillcrest School, Simms Lane, Netherton, came to light in an interim report by the council's Educational Welfare Service (EWS).

The probe looked at records from 2004 to 2007 when the school turned around from being in special measures to receiving glowing reports from government inspectors Ofsted.

A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said: "We can confirm the Economic Crime Team based in Birmingham is looking into allegations of irregularities concerning attendance figures at Hillcrest School."

Former Hillcrest head Mo Brennan, who was made a Dame in 2005 for her work in improving the school, was identified in the Dudley report for leading a team of senior managers who EWS investigators claim manipulated registers to make the school look more successful than it was.

In their interim report, EWS officers allege the records created a false impression of improved attendance which promoted the school's image and resulted in higher pupil numbers.

John Freeman, Dudley director of children's services, confirmed the council investigation was complete and the file had been passed to West Midlands Police.

The Police spokesperson added inquiries could take some time and no arrests had been made.

After her award Dame Mo, who is now headteacher at a school in Walsall, was praised in the House of Commons by the then Education Secretary Charles Clarke and made Midlands Woman of the Year in October 2005.

The EWS report stressed the current head of Hillcrest, April Garratt, supported their investigation and inherited problems not of her making.

It is believed none of Dame Mo's senior management team remained at the school after she left last year.

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