Quintin Kynaston School headteacher Jo Shuter suspended following ‘serious allegations’ relating to finances

An award winning Westminster headteacher has been suspended following “serious allegations” relating to the school’s finances.

Police were made aware of financial irregularities at Quintin Kynaston School, in Marlborough Hill, St John’s Wood, last night (Wednesday, September 12).

No crime has been recorded at this stage but headteacher Jo Shuter has been suspended to allow the investigation to take place.

The allegations were known to governors before the summer break, and a forensic investigation has already been carried out by auditors KPMG.

Ms Shuter told the Wood&Vale she was unable to comment while the investigation was ongoing.

Chris Sale, a deputy headteacher, has been appointed acting head in her absence.

Chairman of the governors Patrick Lees 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.

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“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 headteacher.

“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 headteacher as soon as possible.”

He added that the matter was leaked to police before governors had reported it.

Sources within the academy, where Ms Shuter has been head since 2002, declined to comment.

Westminster Council stressed the issue was one for the school governors as the academy is outside local authority control.

A spokeswoman said: “We understand Quintin Kynaston’s board of governors has taken rapid action in carrying out an investigation into these serious allegations relating to school management, as well as suspending the headteacher pending a formal disciplinary process and reporting the matter to the police.”

Labour MP for North Westminster, Karen Buck, praised the record of Ms Shuter, who was named headteacher of the year at the 2007 Teaching Awards.

The MP said: “I understand these are serious allegations, and now it is for Jo Shuter to come forward and present her response to that.

“I am a great admirer of Jo. Her record as an outstanding headteacher who has helped transform the fortunes of the school, her award for headteacher of the year, what she has done for the school, none of that is in doubt.”

The Department for Education said the suspension was a matter for the school trust.

A spokeswoman 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.”

A Westminster police spokeswoman said: “No crime has been recorded at this stage. We will be discussing the matter with the school in due course.”