Head Jo Shuter suspended from Quintin Kynaston School

Jo Shuter,
Image caption Jo Shuter was named head teacher of the year at the 2007 Teaching Awards

A head teacher credited with turning around a school's fortunes has been suspended after an investigation into its finances.

Police have been called in to investigate at Quintin Kynaston School in St John's Wood, north-west London.

Jo Shuter, head teacher since 2002, said the allegations were "malicious and vindictive".

She was named head teacher of the year at the 2007 Teaching Awards and appointed CBE in June 2010.

Ms Shuter told BBC London: "There is an investigation process ongoing and I'm not allowed to comment.

"I urge people to wait and see the outcome."

'Community shocked'

Patrick Lees, who chairs the school's governing body, said: "On receipt of serious allegations relating to the management of the school, governors took immediate action to initiate an investigation and are now referring the matter to the police.

"In order to facilitate this investigation and ensure that pupils' education is not compromised during this process, we have now also taken the decision to suspend the head teacher.

"Governors are seeking to reassure the school community, who will be undoubtedly shocked and unsettled by this news, that the highest priority is being given to the smooth running of the school and to this end, governors are seeking to appoint an interim head teacher as soon as possible."

The Metropolitan Police said the force was "made aware of possible financial irregularities" on Wednesday.

A spokesman added: "No crime has been recorded at this stage. We will be discussing the matter with the school in due course."

Academies are free from local authority control and ultimately accountable to the secretary of state for education.

A spokesman said the Department for Education was confident the appropriate action was being taken.

He added: "Unfortunately, no system of financial audit can guarantee it will prevent all wrongdoing.

"However, the financial accountability systems in place for academies are more rigorous than those for maintained schools and they enable swift resolution of any issues of financial impropriety.

"The spotlight of this accountability system demonstrates that academies cannot hide from their responsibilities and are held to account for their actions."

'Welfare paramount'

Westminster City Council, which formerly ran the school, said rapid action had been taken by the board of governors in carrying out an investigation.

A spokeswoman added: "The welfare and continued achievement of pupils is obviously of paramount importance in the governors' decision making."

The new term started for all years of the school on Monday.

The school had more than 1,400 pupils aged between 11 and 19 last year, according to its website, which says it has held foundation status since 2008 and became an academy last year.

Ofsted described the academy as "outstanding" following inspections in December 2008 and December 2011.

A spokeswoman said that it was not within the remit of Ofsted to inspect school accounts.

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