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Allendale Middle School faces “inevitable” budget deficit

A CLOSURE-THREATENED school faces an “inevitable” budget deficit even if saved – because parents have been taking children out of it.

Allendale Middle School. Main school building and sports hall

A CLOSURE-THREATENED school faces an “inevitable” budget deficit even if saved – because parents have been taking children out of it.

Allendale Middle School, earmarked for closure this autumn after a bad 2012 Ofsted report, would have £70,000 less in the coffers, following a drop in the school roll from 137 to 102.

The future of the school is on thin ice, with closure recommended from August 31. As well as academic under-performance up to last year, the school has struggled financially, aggravated by a rush to place pupils elsewhere.

A joint report from Northumberland County Council head of planning and organisation John Clark and schools’ organisation officer Lorraine Fife, reveals a deficit has been predicted for the next three years.

Allendale Middle School must close or become a sponsored academy under Government policy.

Only six years ago the pupil roll stood at 213, but has more than halved since then.

The report says: “The number of pupils on roll is the primary driver for the allocation of funding to schools, and as a result of the falling rolls, the level of funding has dropped significantly.

“The school is currently struggling to balance its budget and is predicting a deficit over the next three years.

“New formula arrangements due to be introduced in a phased way from April 2013 will further reduce the level of funding and create additional financial challenges which will make it even more difficult for the school to maintain the necessary leadership capacity to manage the changes needed to create a secure future even as a sponsored academy.”

One of the authority’s favoured options in the event of closure would be to transfer Allendale First School as a primary to the middle school site, with from 4-9 then 4-11.

If the council keeps the school open – as campaigners want – the academy option would be explored by the Department for Education working with the school and council.

Possible sponsors have been slow to come forward after inquiries.

 

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