School’s debt to be cleared so it can be academy

The Harbour School in Tipner
The Harbour School in Tipner
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MORE than £800,000 of debt racked up by a Portsmouth school could be cleared if government funding is approved.

The Harbour School, which has four sites across the city including at Fratton and Tipner, currently has a deficit of £868,258 and is looking to join a multi-academy trust for more financial stability.

Ahead of a school forum next Wednesday, council officers have recommended that the funds from central government go to the school to ensure it can become part of the Delta Education Trust.

It is thought the move could provide more financial and educational support to the school. Since it opened in 2007 it has specialised in teaching children aged between five and 16 who have social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs and those with medical needs. However, it is unlikely the partnership could happen without clearing the school’s debt.

Newly-appointed cabinet member for education, Cllr Suzy Horton, welcomed the recommendation.

She said: ‘I do believe the school can be successful in the future. The main reason for this is because the success of a school is often down to leadership.

‘The school has made some changes and they seem to have been so effective already. I have got every confidence in it.

‘Really we’ve got to think about the students and if this is in their best interests. And I think if this will help the school to operate better then the sooner we do it the better.’

In the last year the school has made several changes to improve on its originally predicted deficit of £1.4m.

These included appointing a new headteacher, downsizing from five sites to four, restructuring staff and reducing pupil numbers.

The council reported that following these changes the school is projected to show a small in-year surplus next year and in subsequent years. This has given them reason to believe that the school will be financially viable into the future.

The £868,258 funding would be taken from the designated schools grant that comes from central government for which Portsmouth received £78m for 2017-2018.

If the bid is successful it is expected that the school will join the trust in December this year.