High school bounces back

AN IPSWICH school is today celebrating a turn around of fortunes after years of financial misery. Westbourne Sports College, in Marlow Road, in the Whitehouse area of Ipswich, has unveiled plans to transform the school after plugging a six-figure budget hole.

AN IPSWICH school is today celebrating a turn around of fortunes after years of financial misery.

Westbourne Sports College, in Marlow Road, in the Whitehouse area of Ipswich, has unveiled plans to transform the school after plugging a six-figure budget hole.

Three years ago the Evening Star reported on major financial problems blamed at the time on rising national insurance payments, bigger pension contributions, and axed government funding.

Today headteacher Chris Edwards announced the school's return to the black.


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Mr Edwards took over the running of the, 1,200 pupil school in May 2000 when Westbourne was branded by inspectors as being in 'serious weaknesses'.

He said: “Things are much better now. Three years ago we were an improving school but we had a deficit of £600,000 which meant having to cut back on any sort of non-essential expenditure.”

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The school stopped replacing staff, cut back on buying books and paper, postponed maintenance, increased class sizes and, until recently, managed with just one deputy headteacher.

Back in 2004 Mr Edwards had to shelve plans to renovate the school's quad area because he just didn't have the money.

But today the plans are back on track, clearing work has begun and the new quad is set to open next spring.

Mr Edwards said: “Now we've got the money. It was a very bleak period but we have made progress. We have worked hard to eliminate the deficit.”

“Despite our problems we managed to keep the main school building in quite good order but outside we didn't have a quiet pleasant areas for our children.

“Children want somewhere they can go and sit and chat. At the moment we've got six benches and it looks like a soviet camp.”

Thanks to extra money new planting, new furniture, tables and seated areas are planned for the quad.

Mr Edwards added: “It will make a huge difference to the school. In six years we have doubled exam results, we've come out of serious weaknesses.

“This money gives us the resources to move our school from good to outstanding and I'm confident we can do it.”

What do you think of Westbourne's plans? Do you have a child that studies at the college? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Sports College Funding

NOW a designated specialist sports college, the school has received a grant of £100,000 to spend on developing the specialism. The money is in addition to £64,000 raised by the school.

A new fitness suite as well as upgrade of sports equipment is planned.

Mr Edwards said: “As a specialist college we will get a further £130,000 a year for revenue spending. We are having two new minibuses, two new members of staff including a specialist sports science teacher, and further new equipment.”

Personalised Learning Money

Announced by Gordon Brown in his last budget, the government funded grant has been made available to Suffolk County Council to allocate to schools with high levels of socially deprived students.

A two year funding stream, Westbourne is set to receive £62,000 this year and £107,000 in 2007.

Mr Edwards said: “This is a significant boost to the school. We are putting the majority of the money into the complete refurbishment of the library into a learning study centre which will be used throughout the day to allow children to engage in more independent learning-learning how to find things out for themselves.”

The study centre will also be opened to the community. It is also from this source the school quad is to be renovated.

Access Initiative

The school has secured £140,000 to spend on making the school accessible to disabled people. Two new lifts are planned as well as a number of ramps.

Mr Edwards said the school put in £35,000 towards the project as well.

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