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SOS for Oldbury primary school as £298,000 deficit looms

By George Makin | Oldbury | Education | Published:

A school with two headteachers and debts of nearly £300,000 has applied for a bailout from Sandwell Council.

Rounds Green Primary School in Oldbury is among those facing problems

Rounds Green Primary in Oldbury is asking the local authority’s Schools Forum for £125,000 to overcome its funding crisis.

The cash lifeline plea comes after it reported an estimated £298,000 deficit in April.

It is one of two schools in the borough which are struggling to meet their bills along with Sacred Heart in Tipton which was able to record a balanced budget this year despite financial pressures.

Just days ago it was reported that Sandwell’s schools could be more than £18 million in the red by 2022 according to budgets drawn up by headteachers.

It comes as education officers warned that overall balances for secondary and primaries have dropped by over £16.5 million in the last 12 months.

By 2021, 31 out of 73 primary schools have said they will be in the red and by 2022 only 11 say they will balance their budgets.

Of those, five say they will be over £500,000 in debt, with Uplands Manor predicting it could owe nearly £800,000.

In secondary education, all of the borough’s 11-16 year-old maintained schools say they will be operating at a loss by 2021 with Holly Lodge High saying it will be £2.25 million in the red. The forecast comes as teaching unions say education is facing a national crisis.

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Last month the National Association of Head Teachers voted to take industrial action in an effort push the government into spending more on schools.

The 438-pupil Rounds Green has been forced to shed eight members of staff but is still in need of financial support as it struggles to improve its standards after being put in special measures by Ofsted.

The education watchdog has since upgraded its performance but still says it ‘requires improvement.’

The primary is also hampered by having 18 pupils above its official capacity of 420 students and at present is paying for two head teachers, after an interim principal was appointed as part of an improvement plan.

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In a report to councillors asking for a licensed deficit agreement which will allow it to set a balanced budget over three years, the school has said: “When looking at our increasing budget deficit, it would be easy to assume that this has been caused by financial mismanagement; although this is not the case.

“(The) school has taken action to reduce expenditure that is within its control, whilst doing this at a rate that has been appropriate to not de-stabilise and further compromise a school that has been in significant difficulty. The main cause of school being in deficit is not in the control of the interim headteacher.”

The application for a bailout comes as schools across the borough say they face massive overspends of over £18 million by 2022.

George Makin

By George Makin
@GeorgePMakin

Local Democracy Reporter covering Sandwell and Dudley.

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