SCHOOLS: Management is businesslike

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For those involved in managing schools, it has come as no surprise whatsoever that many schools are facing deficit budgets.

Why this should come as a surprise to Robert Pollard (Morpeth Herald, February 8) is a mystery as for many years government has given insufficient money to schools, especially those dealing with ageing buildings.

Many of us have known for years that some children living in the far north of Northumberland cross the border to attend school in Scotland, where schools are far better funded.

Mr Pollard’s implication that deficit budgets mean that schools have not been functioning in a businesslike manner indicates lack of knowledge about how school governors and headteachers work, and the considerable care that is taken over managing all aspects of a school’s finances.

One of the functions of school governance is to oversee the budget and ensure value for money.

Each school has to have a three-year budget plan and if this is in deficit, they must produce a plan to deal with the deficit.

In maintained schools, this deficit reduction budget plan must be approved by the county council.

Progress against the budget is monitored by governors frequently throughout the year so that any changes can be agreed where necessary and action taken accordingly.

The new build for Goosehill School is not being funded from the school’s budget, but from the county council budget, to the tune of £6.8million.

There is no money provided by central government for replacement of existing schools, no matter how old.

Government money for new build schools is for new academies and free schools only, so we have a lot to thank Northumberland County Council for.

There will be things that Goosehill will have to buy itself for the move, and it is to be hoped that we will obtain support from outside school to meet some of those costs.

I can assure you, however, that governors will continue to manage the school in a businesslike way.

Joan Tebbutt

Chairman of Governors

Goosehill School

Morpeth