Thursday, June 27, 2013
A HEADTEACHER is taking the unusual step of appealing for pupils to come to her school in September to prevent a shortfall in numbers in reception class.
Linda Dove, head of Alconbury primary, said the school faced losing out on thousands of pounds in Government funding, possibly up to £25,000, if the 10 spaces could not be filled.
She said the lack of new starters had been caused by an “unusual blip” in the birthrate in the village. “Instead of 30 children in reception, it’s only 20 in this area,” said Mrs Dove.
“We are a popular school in our locality and we’ve got all the children we would have.
“Ten children makes a substantial difference to the money we have for the whole year. Children have to be on your register by a set date in October and those figures are used to set the funding for the following financial year.
“If we can fill the reception class, that will make a big difference for April 2014.”
Mrs Dove said the school, which currently has 191 pupils, had been hit by a “double whammy” on top of the sudden dip in numbers. Cambridgeshire’s education funding settlement from Central Government is the worst in the country and Alconbury does not meet the criteria for payments linked to free school meals or less well-off families.
Out of 151 counties in England, Cambridgeshire received the least amount per pupil for 2013/14, £3,949.94. Neighbouring Peterborough received £4,490.03 a head. The English average is £4,550 and many London boroughs were given more than £6,000 per pupil.
“I think that because finances are so tight, we are in a position where we cannot afford not to try and fill the places,” said Mrs Dove. “A few years ago you could buffer the lean years but now we can’t.”
The Church of England school, which was rated as officially “good” by Ofsted in 2011, has looked to social networking to promote itself and now has a Twitter account. Staff and governors have also taken the more traditional step of designing posters to advertise the vacancies.
Mrs Dove said she hoped parents going through appeals having failed to get their children places at over-subscribed schools in Huntingdon and Godmanchester would consider Alconbury.
“Because they are Huntingdon and Godmanchester schools, families there might not necessarily think about coming this way,” she added. “We’re probably closer than other schools they’re thinking about and really easy to get to.”
INFORMATION: To find out more, call the school on 01480 890341 or visit www.alconbury.cambs.sch.uk