Dear Parents, Carers and Friends
The deteriorating financial situation of schools has become a matter of both local and national concern. The rise in pupil numbers alongside unfunded increases in wages, national insurance payments and pension contributions, combined with a freeze in the amount allocated to schools per student has pushed many schools into a financial deficit. As a result this has forced schools to increase class sizes or make redundancies among both support and teaching staff.
Cardinal Newman Catholic School in the past has been protected from the worst effects of this, as we were able to manage our budget effectively to ensure that we had a significant carry forward each year. We used this surplus to invest in the development of the school, including our cutting edge Design and Technology centre (the Benedict building) and our state of the art Sixth Form centre (Newman College). However as the financial pressure on the school has increased we have had to use that carry forward to pay current costs. Our very clear projection is that, unless the funding available to the school increases, we will have no carry forward at the end of this financial year (unless we make cuts) and we will have a significant budget deficit in 2018-19.
What are we doing about it?
We have looked for savings which can be made immediately. This has involved giving up much loved school traditions such as our evening of celebration at the Dome. Other savings have resulted from the better use of technology such as the introduction of Firefly which has enabled us to radically reduce our postal bills and the installation of modern LED lighting which means we can use energy more efficiently.
We have reviewed our support and administrative systems. This has enabled us to deploy staff more flexibly avoiding the need to buy in additional cover for non teaching staff absent due to illness etc or to hire additional staff to cope with new demands in a growing school. We have also looked closely at our existing service level agreements and other contracts with other businesses and government agencies. As a result we have negotiated reductions in costs or moved to alternative providers. Our priority will be to protect and enhance the quality of teaching, learning and safeguarding in school, ensuring that our core values of Caritas, Excellence and Together remain at the heart of everything we do.
The Senior Leadership Team and the Governors are currently developing a three year strategic plan and, as part of that, we will be looking again at all costs within the school and if the current financial constraints remain, we will have to make some very tough decisions. We will also be trying to generate more income from lettings and fundraising.
What can you do to support the school at this time?
The General Election on 8th June gives us all an opportunity to engage with all of the political parties and make sure the issue of school funding is understood and is going to be addressed. Some of you will receive visits from prospective parliamentary candidates and their supporters over the next few weeks. It would be really helpful if you can discuss with them how they intend to tackle the very real funding gap we are seeing emerge in our school and other schools in the city – and hopefully seek their commitment that providing adequate funds for education is a priority in the next Parliament. Some of our parents and carers have also joined the SOS (Save Our Schools) campaign and, following a discussion at the Full Governing Body last Wednesday, we have agreed (in common with many schools in the city) to display their banner on the school railings.
Given the gravity of the situation it has also now become necessary to ask parents, carers and the friends of CNCS to consider making a regular financial contribution to the school. This can be done either in the form of a single payment or as regular direct debit which can be gift aided. You can make a donation to the school here: School Fundraising: Make a Donation.
Money raised from this will not be used to fund running costs but will be invested in the further improvement of the school infrastructure and facilities. We will also be in touch separately to seek your help funding some large and exciting projects such as the provision of a new artificial sports pitch.
We are also looking to enhance our fundraising capacity. Among the parents, carers and friends of CNCS there will be individuals with an expertise in this area. We would ask anybody who feels that they could offer advice and support to contact either of us directly. Our email addresses are email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanking you in anticipation for any support or advice you can offer.
Dr J Kilmartin Mr T Williamson
Headteacher Chair of Governors