Funding boost for Emersons Green school

A DEAL on funding has been agreed between a primary school and South Gloucestershire Council, months after a head wrote an impassioned warning letter to parents.

Emersons Green Primary School executive head teacher Simon Botten told parents in January that he was “shocked by the poor state of the building and the lack of resources available to children because of significant underfunding by the  Local Authority for many years.”

Mr Botten said that when he took overall charge of the school as it formed a partnership with Blackhorse School last summer, he had found 14 windows that didn’t lock, “multiple leaks” in the roof, worn-out furniture, broken toilets, plaster coming from walls and ripped carpets.

He also found there were “only 7 working laptops available to the children”, none of the interactive  whiteboards worked and the Wi-Fi system often failed.

Mr Botten told parents the council had been failing to properly fund the school’s  resource  base for children with disabilities, with shortfalls of up to £70,000, and said more cuts were planned of up to £100,000 in the next two years.

He opened an Amazon wish list for parents to donate “basic stationery, books and classroom resources”.

However Mr Botten said that after negotiations, the council had agreed that the resource base would now be protected from further cuts for the next three years, a one-off £21,000 payment had been made to and the council had also agreed to jointly fund £50,000 of capital works.

He said: “We’re pleased to say that we have been able to come to an arrangement with the local authority whereby the true cost of the school’s exceptional Resource Base has been agreed for the next three years and we are now able to set a balanced budget (for the first time in about 7 years).

“The school, having made parents aware of the funding difficulties which the school was experiencing, was overwhelmed by the support which was provided both in terms of families directly purchasing much needed resources and by making donations to the school. Whilst this was never going to be a solution to the school’s under-funding, it showed the strength of the Emersons Green Primary School community at the school’s time of need.”

Mr Botten said the leaky roof and broken window locks had been fixed, and corridors, cloakrooms and toilets were being refurbished with the money provided.

A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said: “Detailed discussions took place with the school, which included looking at the ongoing costs of the Resource Base and how that compared to funding levels, as well as urgent capital works identified at the school.

“The council has a responsibility to ensure priority capital works are completed and that SEND funding for its schools is sufficient and we are pleased to confirm that the issues reviewed have been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the council and the School.”