PARKFIELD School will become a “great educational asset” once it overcomes the financial problems revealed in its annual accounts, Christchurch’s MP has said.

The school, which moved last year to a site at Bournemouth Airport, will have to pay back almost £772,000 after receiving government grants for more pupils than it has.

It is negotiating to spread the repayments, and its auditors have said there would be “significant doubt” over the school’s future if no agreement was reached.

It has also emerged that the taxpayer will pick up the tab for “onerous” lease payments, which cannot be cancelled, on its former site at Dorset House in central Bournemouth.

Sir Chris Chope has previously raised concerns about the problems which held up the move to Hurn by the area’s first free school, independent of local government control.

He said: “I’ve been concerned from the outset about whether or not the taxpayer’s interest has been properly protected in this whole process, particularly because it seems as though the site wasn’t properly surveyed for the purpose. Otherwise they should have realised there was asbestos there and various other work that has to be done which delayed the whole project.”

But he added: “Being positive about it, Parkfield is actively providing a much needed additional education capacity in in my constituency and there’s every reason to suppose that the school, once it settles down, will be a great educational asset, so I’m sorry to hear about these other financial problems. I’m sure the school will be able to overcome that.”

The Daily Echo asked Parkfield to comment on the revelation that it would have to pay back £771,880 to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

The school was also asked to comment on its £278,966 shortfall from last financial year, as well as the auditors’ prediction of another deficit this year.

The Echo also asked for details of the “significant” budget cuts which the trustees said they had made, and a comment on the “onerous” lease payments the school is committed to over its former site at Lansdowne.

A statement from Graham Exon, chair of Parkfield School’s interim advisory board (IAB), said: “We continue to receive help and support from the DfE, which is fully aware of the school’s circumstances including the financial situation.

“The lease on the property in Bournemouth, previously used by Parkfield, was negotiated by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and remains their responsibility going forward.

“The priority of the school, its head teacher, staff, governors and the IAB continues to be our children, their care and standard of education.”