A CONTROVERSIAL free school has been rapped for its financial and governance arrangements.

Durham Free School, which only opened in September last year, was hit with a Financial Notice to Improve after an Education Funding Agency (EFA) review found “significant weaknesses”.

The school, based in Gilesgate, Durham City, has been temporarily stripped of some powers and given a list of issues it must address, including recruiting more parent governors and establishing an audit committee.

If the school fails to satisfy the order, it could have its funding agreement terminated.

A spokeswoman for the school said it was preparing a plan to address the issues identified and this would be submitted to the EFA by Friday, December 19, as required.

“In addition, we are already taking action to resolve the specific matters raised and putting improved arrangements in place to ensure complete compliance with the EFA requirements.

“We welcome the EFA’s advice and our own auditors have confirmed that the Trust’s finances are in good order.

“We are confident that all outstanding matters can be resolved quickly,” the spokeswoman said.

The school became the focus on the national free school debate after it emerged its first term cost the taxpayer nearly £900,000 and

Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods has called for its closure.

It currently has aBOUT 90 pupils, across years seven and eight, but is still awaiting a permanent site.