THE principal of St Neots Community College, now deemed as failing by inspectors, says the school needs two years to improve. An Ofsted inspection led to the school being put in special measures in March. The school also has a huge financial deficit which

THE principal of St Neots Community College, now deemed as failing by inspectors, says the school needs two years to improve.

An Ofsted inspection led to the school being put in special measures in March.

The school also has a huge financial deficit which has led to staff redundancies.

With the future looking uncertain, principal, Eueth Forrester pointed to improvements that have already been made and the college's continuing challenges.

He said: "You do not get put in special measures overnight, this had been coming for many years.

"Being put in special measures had a massive impact on staff. It hit their self confidence and they feel as though they have been labelled as failures, when they're not.

"We have already started to make improvements and with time and the right support we will improve further."

But the college looks unlikely to be given the chance to prove itself with Cambridgeshire County Council considering forming a "federation" with Longsands College.

The prospect of the two schools being run by a single management team is the council's preferred option as part of public consultation on the future of secondary education.

Other options include it becoming a national challenge trust school, which would involve setting up a trust to provide direction. Or shutting the college and providing alternative educational arrangements on the site such as an academy.

Although Mr Forrester said he would support whichever option was deemed best for the pupils, he believes the college should be given two years to show it can improve.

He said: "We have already seen improvements and the college is on the up. I recognise that further improvements are needed but given time and the right support, I am confident the college will move forward. Having support to raise the quality of teaching is key."

Highlighting improvements already made, he said behaviour had "dramatically" improved and the school had seen an 80 per cent decrease in exclusions.

However, Mr Forrester said the school was also challenged by deficits totalling £300,000 in the two years up to April 2009 with £930,000 projected to the end April 2010.

"Staff are working really hard to raise standards but we have the added pressure of a huge financial burden.

"The finances are still not resolved and Ofsted felt we could not make the necessary improvements while facing these financial challenges."

Mr Forrester said the debt had built up because of a drop in pupil numbers. A deficit recovery plan was being considered.

"INFORMATION: Anyone wanting to have their say on the future of St Neots Community College can do so by e-mailing stneotssecondary@cambridgeshire.gov.uk by Friday (December 18).