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School given grant to tackle its deficit

Boost for Beenham Primary in bid to clear budget shortfall

Fiona Tomas

Fiona Tomas

fiona.tomas@newburynews.co.uk

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BEENHAM Primary School is set to receive more than £25,000 from a shared fund to help recover some of its deficit – around a third of the total amount it still owes.   

It is hoped the decision, taken at a West Berkshire Schools Forum this week, will help the school in its bid to recover its current year shortfall of £64,600.

But it has already been forecast that the school’s deficit will increase to £84,600 by the end of the current year, owing to unforeseen costs relating to the closure of its after-school club.

In total, Beenham will receive £25,430, which will come from a de-delegated fund set aside for primary schools in financial difficulty.

There is set criteria, agreed by the Schools’ Forum, for allocating this funding to schools that have a deficit budget and may be in need of additional support funding.

Beenham Primary is in financial deficit owing to a significant reduction in pupil numbers, following an Ofsted inspection in 2015 which found it ‘could do better’.

The situation has since been compounded by the closure of its after-school club, the cost of which will be alleviated by money from the fund. 

The Heads Funding Group agreed unanimously to recommend that the bid be approved at the Schools’ Forum meeting held at Shaw House on Monday, given that Beenham is meeting all other school-related redundancy costs.

The primary had a deficit in 2013-14, which was cleared in that year, and it has met all redundancy costs of restructures carried out over the last few years.

The school had previously received additional funding of £72,000 in March 2013 to repay a £90,000 loan it had taken out in 2009-10, which it was unable to repay owing to the significant reduction in capital allocations.

The school has also limited its bid only to this “particular unusual and exceptional circumstance”, which West Berkshire Council head of education Ian Pearson acknowledged at the forum.   

He said: “This particular bid is about the very specific circumstance of the after-school club, which had to close and effectively was set up under an agreement by Berkshire County Council.

“That agreement placed the staff and the costs of redundancies with Beenham Primary School, even though the club was operating on behalf of the county council at that point in time and outside the direct remit of the school.”

Mr Pearson said the significant loss of pupils following the Ofsted inspection, and a number of staffing issues, could not have been predicted.

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