Bournemouth school could close early to save money

Epiphany school
Image caption Epiphany primary became a church-run academy school in 2012

A primary school has said it may have to close early on Fridays because of a "funding crisis".

Epiphany School in Bournemouth said it faced a £280,000-a-year shortfall, due to government cuts and rising costs.

The Church of England-run academy said it had already reduced its music and sports provision, as well as the number of classroom-based teaching assistants.

Head teacher Dave Simpson said he acknowledged that early closing could affect children's education.

Image caption Head teacher Dave Simpson said the government was not giving enough money to schools

He said it could also have a "massive" impact on parents, who he said were "supportive".

Other schools including Danemill Primary in Leicestershire and City Academy in Hackney have proposed to reduce school hours from this autumn to save money.

In April, the National Association of Head Teachers conference backed a motion to consider a four-and-a-half day week in schools.

'Standards will drop'

Mr Simpson said he could save about £35,000, by allocating Friday afternoons for teachers' planning, preparation and assessment time.

He said the school's overall funding had fallen by more than £50,000 since it became an academy in 2012.

The cost of national insurance, pensions, inflation, teachers' pay and education, health and care (EHC) plans for pupils with special needs amounted to an extra £230,000, he said.

The school has drafted letters for parents to send to MPs and councillors, stating: "I am worried that standards within the school will inevitably begin to drop and the needs of my child will not be met."

In December, the National Audit Office found schools were facing budget cuts of £3bn by 2020 because funding was not keeping pace with increased pupil numbers and rising costs.

Bournemouth Borough Council's deputy leader Nicola Greene said schools were struggling because of a shortfall in funding for pupils with special needs.

The Department for Education said it would soon make further announcements on the national funding formula for schools.

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