School costs rise while income is at a standstill

Pictured at the prize-giving are Gordon Rae; Matthew Jordan; Megan Brown; Catherine Walker; chairman of governors Lalage Bosenquet; headteacher Maurice Hall; guest speaker Paul Larkin, editor of the Northumberland Gazette; Lyndsay Manion; Thomas Slack and  Eve Ellwood.
Pictured at the prize-giving are Gordon Rae; Matthew Jordan; Megan Brown; Catherine Walker; chairman of governors Lalage Bosenquet; headteacher Maurice Hall; guest speaker Paul Larkin, editor of the Northumberland Gazette; Lyndsay Manion; Thomas Slack and Eve Ellwood.

An Alnwick school is facing an increase in costs of up to £200,000 from this year to next as income stands still.

Maurice Hall, headteacher of the Duchess’s Community High School, said the school is seeing a rise in costs of 10 per cent and more, much of it coming from increases in employer contributions to national insurance and pensions.

He told the audience at the school’s annual prize-giving on Friday that if it was located in Durham, rather than Northumberland, there would be an extra £400,000 in the pot.

“We have to keep our fingers crossed for changes to the national funding forumulas in 2017/18.

“In the meantime, we must do everything we can to support those more in need of extra help, otherwise division within our community will increase,” he said.

The prize-giving was the last to be held at the high school’s current site before it moves to a new building at Greensfield.

Mr Hall said: “This is a time of significant curriculum change and increased accountability. In my 14 years as a headteacher in two different schools, I have never known such a period of turbulence in schools.

“None of my colleagues has shirked their responsibilties but it has to be said that there are unique pressures on our school at present, including moving to a new site and the funding implications mentioned earlier.

“This makes it even more important that dialogue between school, parents and the wider community continues to be open, supportive and positive.”

Mr Hall said the move to the new location gives the potential to build further links with many of the town’s large employers and businesses.

“We have one of the broadest set of students I have known in any school, whether this is by ability, aspiration, background, behaviour or parental support.

“Many of our students don’t want to go to university,

“In fact, only 40 per cent of our cohorts each year will take up this option. Most want the opportunity to follow careers that are more vocational and practical.

“For us to relocate to the south end of town gives the potential to expand this area of the curriculum and engage with businesses which are a brief walk away.”

Mr Hall said high school students have achieved so much, despite the dilapidated buildings and facilities.

In the last year, Year 12 results were the best the school has ever had. More than half of the Year 13 results were of the highest grades and GCSE results provided individual successes for many students.

He spoke of an exciting future in store.

He said: “In the past, our young people have achieved so much despite our buildings and facilities. Once we settle into our new building, these difficulties will disappear.

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a local community to take a further leap forward; for our young people to achieve even more, to help them gain the skills and emotional maturity to seek out fulfilling and satisfying lives.

“We do so much together already, how much more is now possible over the years?

“As we say goodbye to our old buildings, let’s all look forward to a new and exciting period in our school’s long history.”