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Cash injection needed for schools

PUBLISHED: 04:50 08 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:49 03 March 2010

SCHOOLS across Suffolk will need a cash injection before the end of the year to carry on operating, a primary head said today.

Duncan Bathgate's warning came as the spectre of school closures returned to the county – 20 years after primaries were shut to save money.

SCHOOLS across Suffolk will need a cash injection before the end of the year to carry on operating, a primary head said today.

Duncan Bathgate's warning came as the spectre of school closures returned to the county – 20 years after primaries were shut to save money.

Mr Bathgate said today that this time the issue was not the size of schools – but the funding of the education service as a whole.

"Schools do not have enough money to cover all their costs and I cannot see any alternative but for the government to come up with more money later in the year," he said.

"I think the government know that and is preparing the way, I think Charles Clarke (Education Secretary) has got the message."

Mr Bathgate said schools had been hit by rises in school salaries, pension contributions, and insurance costs.

"The increases in money we have been given are not enough to cover these rises," he warned.

Mr Bathgate is headteacher of the 100-pupil Little Bealings Primary School, one of a group of small Suffolk schools which successfully fought off the threat of closure in the early 1980s.

Since then it has gone from strength to strength and regularly features near the top of league tables.

"We do not feel threatened – it isn't a question of size or of rural against urban schools, every school is affected by budget crises," he said.

He was speaking after Suffolk County Council warned a school near Newmarket could have to close after it received a poor Ofsted Report.

Gazeley Primary has just 25 pupils – and the inspection warned that junior pupils were not doing well enough.

The county council has drawn up three options to tackle the problems – one is to close the school and transfer the pupils to other primaries in the area.

Primary schools at Nacton, Bucklesham, Waldringfield and Little Bealings know all about the threat of closure - and 20 years ago successfully fought to stay open as the education authority axe swung.

The quartet, which have around 400 pupils in total, formed a Federation of Small Schools 15 years ago and support each other in many ways, including joining together for academic and sporting activities.

They have received a series of awards in recent years for their achievements and their curriculum.

Elizabeth Ditton, head at 89-pupil Nacton, said places at her school were in demand and it was oversubscribed for next September.

"Small schools provide a different kind of education and we are often described as being like a family, able to give a great deal of attention to individuals at the start of their school life," she said.

"We are a vital part of our community, taking part in many activities. We work hard to keep our standards high, but we also place a strong emphasis on not just academic work and helping our pupils to do their best, but in giving them a wide variety of opportunities."


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