School hopes laughter will help to plug funding gap

Claudia Cubbage, principal of Henry Cort Community College in Fareham
Claudia Cubbage, principal of Henry Cort Community College in Fareham

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A SCHOOL has turned to hosting comedy nights in a bid to raise funds in the face of pending education cuts.

The innovative idea from Henry Cort Community College in Fareham comes with the school expecting to receive less from government coffers.

And the school even got a licence to sell alcohol in its theatre from Fareham Borough Council.

The school’s principal Claudia Cubbage said the comedy events, which will start monthly from July, were a method to enable the school to balance its budget.

She told The News: ‘These comedy nights are a way to counteract the cuts that we are facing. We have increased costs in terms of staff but we have fewer students and our funding is eroding slowly.

‘We have had no increases in funding for our school over the last four years and that is not likely to change.’

The Department for Education announced a new proposed funding formula for schools last December with a public consultation held earlier this year.

Figures provided by the National Union for Teachers say the school could see a reduction of £371,249 in funds by 2019 and potential reduction of eleven teachers.

Mrs Cubbage said: ‘We are trying to get ahead of the game here.

‘At the moment, we are really struggling to balance the books and I do not want to be in a position where I cannot offer my students the full curriculum.

‘We need to prop up our income in order to keep providing the education provision for our students.’

She added that while provisionally the strictly over-18s events were set to be on a monthly basis, they could be bi-monthly.

The licence allows the school to sell alcohol Monday to Sunday from 5pm until 11pm.

Some residents had written in to authority objecting to the proposals on the grounds of noise.

An unnamed resident who lives nearby wrote to the authority stating: ‘After talking to lots of people in this area, who are against this application also, we all agree that the level noise would be intolerable.’

The level of noise was addressed to Mrs Cubbage at the meeting. She reminded the panel that the school already had a licence for late music, adding: ‘We are not looking to hold events every night. It will not get rowdy and turn into a pub.

‘Most of all, it will bring people within the community together.’

Amanda Martin, NUT Portsmouth branch secretary said: ‘This is a brilliant idea and I am in total agreement that schools should be at the heart of their communities but they should not be having to do this and become businesses.

‘These events should be used to help fund school trips not the pens, pencils and curriculum of our children. Schools should not be forced to having to make a profit.’

The first of the events would be held on Friday, July 14.