THE PRINCIPAL of Portsmouth College says he is surviving drastic budget cuts because of good financial planning and the support of staff around him.
Despite making five redundancies this week including a part-time library assistant and receptionist, Steve Frampton says his college has undergone minimal disruption thanks to cost-cutting strategies put in place years ago.
Moreover he is looking forward to a £1.6m makeover of the Copnor site this summer with new IT rooms, an outdoor social area, and both learning resources and student support centres.
Mr Frampton said: ‘It’s very understandably disappointing for the five people concerned who have lost their jobs – it’s what we always try to avoid doing.
‘But because we’ve been constantly reviewing and adjusting our planning over recent years, we have managed to adjust the running of the college with the minimum amount of disruption or jobs lost.’
Over the last two years, more than 20 staff members – many of them teachers – have volunteered to reduce their hours, and some post-19 staff paid by the hour have had their contracts terminated.
On top of this, retired staff and those moving to other institutions have not always been fully replaced.
Mr Frampton said: ‘None of this was a knee-jerk reaction to the budget.
‘We’ve had to plan ahead to stave off big financial challenges, and we have worked out our plans with governors, students and staff who’ve been brilliant.’
Portsmouth College has seen its core funding for its 942 students drop three per cent this year to £3.91m. The Government has given a compensatory £133,000 to help students improve their literacy and numeracy, as well as a £353,000 ‘transitional fund’ to cushion them against the 74 per cent cut in funding for extra-curricular activities.
Swingeing cuts to post-19 budgets also means students on income-assessed benefits or learning English as a second language (ESOL) previously entitled to free courses worth £3,900 have to pay 50 per cent of the cost, as well as course fees.
But Mr Frampton has pledged to support ESOL students by halving the college’s £450 course fees – leaving the college £2,115 poorer per student this year compared with last.
Mr Frampton said: ‘My priority is to not compromise on the quality of teaching and of care for our students. I’d like to think that’s been achieved and that we will grow and perform the vital role we do for our community and improve our resources.’