Primary school proposes closing after lunchtime on a Friday to cope with budget cuts

'We have given this much thought and consideration and we feel that this is the very best option for the children'

May Bulman
Thursday 29 June 2017 11:47
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A primary school has said its pupils may have to finish school at lunchtime every Friday in order to cope with budget cuts.

Danemill Primary School in Enderby, Leicestershire, said it had received significantly less money in its annual budget as a result of the government's national funding formula.

Designed to shift resources from more highly funded urban areas to less well funded rural ones, the new formula also aims to provide extra funding for schools with high numbers of children with low prior attainment.

However, headeachers have called for a rethink of the plans, while school governors said it would lead to a "catastrophic" squeeze on budgets.

Danemill, which has 400 pupils, said they would provide a “limited number” of places for children to stay at school until 3.20pm, during which time they would carry out “enrichment activities”.

The proposed adjustment would be the “best option” for the pupils, said the letter, which was signed by the school's executive headteacher Dawn White and headteacher Tracey Lawrence.

“As you may be aware the Fairer Funding Formula has resulted in schools receiving significantly less money in their annual budgets from the government and Danemill is not an exception,” it read.

“Our prime concern is to provide your child with quality first teaching to enable them to achieve their full potential... Effective from 24 October 2017 the school day would end on Friday afternoons at 1.05pm lunchtimes.

“The implementation of this new timetable will allow teachers to have their Planning and Preparation time (PPA) on Friday afternoons and your child will continue to have quality first teaching during the rest of the week.”

It added: “We have given this much thought and consideration and we feel that this is the very best option for the children.”

A response slip was attached to the letter on which parents were able to state whether they were happy or unhappy with the proposal and give their reasons for this.

Parents were reportedly criticising the decision on social media.

“Hold on, I thought every hour counted and we are not allowed to take our children on holiday but it’s ok to miss a couple of hours each week," one mother wrote on Facebook.

“Can’t have it both ways. This is a ridiculous decision that clearly gives no thought to hardworking parents."

A report into government funding reforms recently revealed state schools in England were to face spending cuts of up to seven per cent per pupil as a result of a new single national funding formula (NFF), to be introduced for all schools starting from September next year.

Experts from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned the NFF – the largest school spending reform in more than 25 years – is unlikely to be rolled out across all schools until at least 2024, and warned that it would divert funding away from schools with the most deprived student population.

The Education Policy Institute has also estimated that average losses will reach £74,000 for primary schools and £291,000 for secondary schools by 2019-20 as a result of the changes.

But a Department for Education spokesperson said: “We want to make sure all children, regardless of where they live or their background, have a world-class education that unlocks their talent and creates opportunity. Thanks to our reforms there are 1.8 million more children in schools rated good or outstanding than in 2010.

“The core schools budget has been protected in real terms since 2010 and is set to rise from £41bn in 2017-18 to over £42bn in 2019-20 with increasing pupil numbers. But we recognise that schools are facing cost pressures and will continue to provide support to help them use their funding in cost effective ways.”

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