Mon, 22 Jul 2019
PARENTS contributed more than £200,000 to help schools in deficit last year.
The news comes as three West Berkshire primary schools in financial difficulty have been granted funding to tackle their financial challenges.
Nine schools in the district had licensed deficits totalling £870,000 last year.
After taking measures to address their funding problems, five schools ended the year out of deficit, with £531,000 made up from income.
Parents contributed £207,510 to the total, specific donations or voluntary contributions accounted for £145,373, while non-specific donations or voluntary funds made up £41,899.
The remainder was largely from education grants.
Commenting on the sums at a schools forum meeting on Monday, the head of education at West Berkshire Council Ian Pearson said: “I think West Berkshire parents are to be applauded for the extent to which they are supporting their schools.”
But Thatcham Park School governor and director at the Kennet School Academy Trust the rev Mark Bennet said: “That’s all well and good if you have parents that can make a contribution.
“I think we probably do need to look at how that might privilege some schools and leave others short in areas of particular need.”
Mr Pearson replied that there was a deprivation element in the funding formula, but he appreciated that the issue was “slightly more complex”.
Englefield Primary School headteacher Hilary Latimer said: “We have just set up a pledge-giving fund for our parents because the funds given to us are not adequate to enable us to do what we do.
“We’ve cut as much as we can. Schools would quite like some reassurance. We don’t want to start having to make staff changes.”
Meanwhile, St Joseph’s RC Primary School, St Finian’s RC Primary School, and Kintbury CofE Primary School will receive a share of more than £75,000 to tackle shortfalls.
All schools had applied to the council’s ‘primary schools in financial difficulty’ de-delegated fund.
St Joseph’s, in Newbury, had applied for £10,299 for redundancy costs incurred following an office restructure last year.
St Finian’s, in Cold Ash, had asked for £35,500 to help offset the loss of funding due to a temporary downturn in pupil numbers and to assist with a one-off unprecedented long-term sickness of teaching staff.
The school had also sought an additional £5,500 to cover expected redundancy costs in 2019/20 and 2020/21.
Kintbury CofE Primary School requested £31,300 for unplanned expenditure due to the unplanned and uninsured absence of its headteacher.
The bids were approved at Monday’s meeting.