Parents of students attending Bradley Stoke Community School (BSCS) have been warned of a looming financial crisis that could lead to the school day being shortened and/or class sizes being increased in order to save on staff costs.
Other “unthinkable” cost-saving suggestions being put up for discussion include reducing support roles, such as teaching assistants, and asking parents/carers to make regular financial contributions to the school.
The funding issues, which affect all seven schools operated by the Olympus Academy Trust, are said to result from historically low levels of government funding for schools within South Gloucestershire, in comparison with other areas of the country. This has left the trust with less money in reserves to fall back on in hard times. On top of this, it is claimed that government funding has not been increased to compensate for inflation and increased costs that have fallen on schools in recent years.
Trust CEO Dave Baker said:
“We have had to make cuts year-on-year for several years now because of the government’s ‘austerity’ policy, which has meant ‘flat’ budgets for education – in reality this has meant reduced funds to run our schools each year because we have had to pay for things along the way which previously we did not have to pay for, such as increased employer pension and national insurance contributions for staff, the apprenticeship levy (a new tax from April this year), unfunded cost of living pay awards for staff, inflationary costs, provision of services that were funded externally before, e.g. careers advice and guidance, behaviour and mental health support for students etc.”
Mr Baker predicts that the trust’s expected funding levels for the next academic year (2017/18) will make it their “most challenging year yet”. The trust’s two secondary schools, BSCS and Abbeywood, are likely to be hit hardest, with both having to “reduce spending by over 8 percent by September”, equating to £400,000 less in each school.
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