Regulator begins statutory inquiry into school for autistic children

The Charity Commission is investigating the governance of Hope House School in Nottinghamshire, having received an anonymous complaint

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into a school for children and young people with autism because of concerns about its governance and administration.

The regulator said today it had begun investigating Hope House School near Newark in Nottinghamshire after receiving an anonymous complaint.

The school, which has 25 pupils, works with children and young people aged between five and 19 who have autistic spectrum disorders.

The commission said a visit to the school raised a number of regulatory concerns and its inquiry would focus on areas including whether trustees had exercised sufficient oversight and control of the charity, whether its financial controls were adequate and whether there had been any unauthorised trustee benefit.

The regulator said it had used its powers to restrict the transactions the charity could carry out to ensure that any funds were properly spent.

Terri Westmoreland, principal of the school, who founded it in 2003, said the charity was aware of a small group of people whom it believed had made a number of complaints about it to regulators including Ofsted, HM Revenue & Customs and environmental health departments, all of which had been satisfied.

"We are working with the Charity Commission and are confident we will be able to answer its queries," she said.

Hope House had an income of £909,254 in the year to the end of March 2016 and expenditure of £888,463 during the same period, accounts filed with the regulator show.

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