31 jobs could go at debt-ridden Gosport school

CHANGES Brune Park Community School
CHANGES Brune Park Community School
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The Vanguard Centre, in Cosham, where work is taking place to transform it into a new school for the city.

Building work begins on new £3.2m Cosham school

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A GOSPORT school is looking to axe 31 teaching and staff posts – after it was discovered to be £800,000 in the red.

The scale of financial troubles at Brune Park Community College will be a major setback for a school recovering from a poor Ofsted and the resignation of its former head Dr Ian Johnson in September.

On Monday, governors will be asked to approve a set of draft proposals to help rebalance the books. As well as the loss of seven teaching posts, 23 support staff and one senior leadership team member, teachers receiving additional pay for undertaking extra duties will be asked to consider pay cuts.

Chris Anders, interim head, said he was shocked to learn about the deficit which he says left him with no option but to propose several job redundancies.

He said: ‘It’s hard news for the staff because they’ve been working well since September and students, parents, inspectors and advisors are all commenting on the improvements they see.

‘The deficit is massive. I’ve looked at every possible way to make savings to utility bills and cutting all department budgets by 10 per cent, but it doesn’t get anywhere near the amount we have to save by 2016.

‘It looks like staff numbers were increased significantly a couple of years ago. Compared with other schools there is an overexpenditure on staff.’

He added: ‘This situation is particularly disappointing as it means we have to face another hurdle.

‘I came here to focus on teaching and learning, but now we’ve got to make huge savings at a time when budgets are getting smaller in real terms year on year.’

If Mr Anders’ proposals are approved next week they will go out to a formal consultation with unions.

He also said teachers who stand to lose their jobs would be encouraged to fill school vacancies.

Cllr Roy Perry, Hampshire’s education boss, said the county council uncovered the financial black hole when school governors invited it to manage their deficit last April – which was thought to stand at £150,000.

As a foundation school, Brune Park had opted for several years to run its own business affairs.

Cllr Perry said: ‘They wanted our support to help reduce the deficit, but then we discovered the real amount. It’s an enormous deficit to be acquired in a year, and it would certainly imply to me we need to look very closely to see if the information in the accounts last year was absolutely correct.

‘We’ve never seen any other school with this scale of deficit. It’s very serious.’