Cambridgeshire

Fulbourn Primary to close early to save money

Fulbourn Primary School Image copyright Google
Image caption Parents of children at Fulbourn Primary were sent a letter explaining the decision

A primary school has told parents it will close early once a week in a bid to save money.

Classes will finish at 13:30 BST, instead of 15:30 BST, on Wednesdays from September at Fulbourn Primary, near Cambridge.

The governing body said government funding had increased, but not in line with costs.

The Department for Education said the move was "unacceptable", adding it had given Cambridgeshire an extra £20.1m.

Parents were told about the "difficult decision" in a letter from the head teacher, which acknowledged the move would "have a significant impact on parents and carers".

Image copyright PA/Dave Thompson
Image caption Cambridgeshire County Council is lobbying the government for more funds, saying it receives £400 per child less than the average funded authority

The school said the move would reduce its predicted deficit from £260,000 to £140,000 by 2022.

Teachers have a legal right to lesson planning time during their working week, so the savings will come from not using supply teachers to cover this.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said Cambridgeshire's funding had increased by 3.5% per pupil from 2017-18 - the equivalent of £20.1m - which is above the national average of 3.2%.

"It is unacceptable for schools to shorten their school week when it is not a direct action to support and enhance their pupils' education," she said.

David Boyd, a parent and governor at Fulbourn Primary, said the government should be "honest and transparent".

He said: "[It] has increased funding, but also increased national insurance and pension contributions, we're paying an apprenticeship levy and... they've taken away the county council servicing of IT and financial systems, so the cash we have to spend on schools has gone down."

Simon Bywater, chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council's children and young people committee, said the county was "one of the worst funded education authorities in England".

"It's like trying to fill up the bath with the plug out and can't stop until we get the right resources," he said.

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