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Facing the funding challenge

Tracey Jones, Headteacher, Lord Grey School, writes…

Lord Grey School is a comprehensive 11-18 school in Milton Keynes, with around 1400 students on roll.

While we are solvent this year, this has been in part due to the luxury of having carry forward from a new performing arts block, which is now not going ahead. However, 80% of the carry forward has been used this year, and if the current funding challenges continue, I fear a dire state by 2020.

We have been offsetting this challenge through a continued economy drive: limiting department photocopying, default black and white photocopying, looking at energy use, etc. We have also made minor reductions to some areas of the budget, for example reducing the VIVO points prize pot from £12,000 to £8,000.

Staff structures

And we’re looking carefully at our staff structure. When posts become open through resignations and retirements, we are thinking about whether we want to keep the post or whether we can do without it.

A full restructure of support staff will lead to cost efficiencies by 2018. Changing support staff’s grade scale from seven points to five points has helped us to rationalise support staff pay.

With the apprenticeship levy coming in this academic year, we have already taken on a number of apprentices, some of whom have gone on to substantive posts. Our apprentices have worked as trainee chefs, trainee Marcomms officers, in the ICT network team, and as sports technicians. The challenge in the future will be thinking about each apprenticeship role as a one-year course, rather than necessarily as a route to a substantive role.

Investing to save

We have actively decided to invest in more textbooks, which can be used for a number of years, and so are more sustainable than multiple photocopied hand-outs.

Perhaps our most innovative solution to funding challenges has been the development of the Eden Centre. This is a dedicated alternative provision school, on our site, although operating separately to the rest of the school. We decided to invest in our buildings and to convert the old caretaker’s house into the AP school. This initial refurbishment investment cost around £40,000, with around £30,000 pa to staff the school.

We plan to make savings based on this investment, by running our AP in-house, rather than using external AP providers, and thus losing more income from students leaving our roll. Last year we had 19 students go through the Eden Centre, with the aim always to get them back into the mainstream school eventually.

While we are currently keeping this as an internal provision, we have been contacted by other schools about sending their students to the Eden Centre for short periods. Although we have no plans to offer this externally at the moment, partly due to the fact that it’s so new for us, this is something we may consider in time as an additional revenue stream.


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