Mansfield school in cash for grades controversy

Queen Elizabeths Academy, Mansfield.
Queen Elizabeths Academy, Mansfield.

Furious students at a failing Mansfield school are demanding money owed to them after they were promised cash for grades - and not paid.

Queen Elizabeth’s Academy promised year 11 pupils the cashpot if they could achieve or improve on their predicted GCSE results last summer.

The school recently finished bottom in the GCSE league tables for the Mansfield and Ashfield region.

Students at the Chesterfield Road South school say they were offered £30 for every subject in which they hit their target grades.

Frustrated students who put in the work and are owed hundreds of pounds have since contacted Chad to say they are yet to receive a penny, despite being told they would get their promised pay on results day, last August.

Many are now at the school’s sixth-form college, but others who left to attend other colleges or look for work are still seeking what is owed.

Student Elizabeth Harrigan (17), who is now studying for her A-levels at the school’s sixth-form, said: “Overall I feel that the school has lied to us. They promised us almost a year ago that we would receive £30 for each target grade we met. I feel let down, you should be able to trust your teachers.”

Student Charlotte Gregory (17), also from Mansfield studying for her A-levels at Queen Elizabeth’s, says she is owed more than £100.

She added: “Telling us this made us work extra hard and made people that wouldn’t usually spend time after school go to revision sessions held by teachers.

“However, we still haven’t received the money and despite asking on various occasions by different students, we keep getting told a different story.

“Even though we were promised the money, we’re still pleased that we accomplished our grades that we required.”

Chad tried to contact the principal Mike Smith, but were instead directed to his PA, Jayne Crutchley, who said they were aware of the situation and were working to resolve it.

She added: “The money is coming from the trustees and we are chasing it up.

“We are hoping it will be resolved in the next three of four days.

“It was an incentive for them to hit their grades. We know that the students are not very happy with it, because they were promised it on results day.

“We are doing the best we can.”

The school would not comment on how much is owed in total to students, or whether offering money for grades was a regular practice.

However, the School Partnership Trust Academies (SPTA), which sponsors the school, responded by saying: “SPTA was not involved in the offering of a cash incentive to students at Queen Elizabeth’s Academy and does not encourage this type of incentive to its students.

“This may have been introduced by the Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation Board, however, this is not something SPTA can comment upon or were involved in.

“SPTA have implemented a well-structured improvement plan within Queen Elizabeth’s Academy and we hope to see fast improvements in pupil’s GCSE results before the summer.”

Although Queen Elizabeth’s Academy is not part of the Nottinghamshire County Council’s LEA, a leading councillor has said there was no policy for incentive schemes for schools under their jurisdiction.

Coun John Peck, chairman of the children and young person’s committee, said such decisions were made by individual schools.

“It’s a matter for the teachers and the governors but individual schools may see it as a way of driving up results,” he added.

“I can understand why schools offer incentives, but it would depend on what they were and if they were appropriate.

“Schools are a very competitive environment, and they always have one eye on their position in league tables and Ofsted inspections.

“Incentives for exam grades are something that parents have been doing for years.”

The controversy comes less than two months since Queen’s Elizabeth’s Academy was plunged into special measures following a damning Ofsted report.

The school was rated as ‘inadequate’ in three out of four key areas, criticising several areas including achievement in English and maths and pupil attendance.

Inspectors also said that improvement plans were ‘unrealistic’.

This has been compounded by the recent publication of GCSE results tables, putting the school bottom for our region.

The school did not wish to comment on the results tables.