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Parents appeal to Prime Minister over funding cuts at Sir Roger Manwood's in Sandwich

By Emily Stott

Outraged parents are appealing to the Prime Minister and education secretary after courses were cancelled because of funding cuts at an east Kent school.

Two courses have stopped due to a lack of funds at Sir Roger Manwood’s School in Sandwich. These are a three-year after-school ICT course and Chinese, which the children have already been studying for two years.

This means the Year 9 pupils can no longer take these on to GCSE level.

This has devastated one pupil, Brianna Middleton, 13, of Churchill Avenue, Walmer, and she has written to David Cameron and education secretary Michael Gove to appeal for their help.

She said: “I planned pretty much my entire future around learning Chinese. I thought I would be able to do it at GCSE. I know that funding has been cut but David Cameron always says we should be learning Chinese for our future.”

Parents and students from Sir Roger Manwood's

She has also contacted MP Laura Sandys and was told the MP for Sandwich will investigate.

Jeremy Bullard, 44, of St George’s Road, Sandwich, whose daughter is studying Chinese, said: “We wouldn’t mind if they hadn’t offered Chinese in the first place but to offer it and then take it away. I just don’t know when the cuts are going to stop.

“It was a total waste of her time. She has now also lost the option to study either German or Spanish instead as she spent her time learning Chinese ready for that GCSE, to cancel courses after children are part way through is totally unacceptable.”

Mr Bullard explained that according to an email from head teacher Lee Hunter, the school has known about the cuts for years. The email said: “With hindsight I wish I had sent that communication earlier to parents of Year 9, so that you were fully in the picture when your children’s GCSE option choices were being sorted.”

He then goes on to explain that the funding was withdrawn “a few years ago now actually”.

Parent Jeremy Bullard

The group feel they should have been informed about the cuts from the start and that children should not have been told before parents and reportedly even before the teachers themselves.

Mr Bullard added that this lack of communication has made him doubt whether the cancellations are due to government cuts or financial mismanagement by the school.

Michael Lees, parent of Gabriel, 13, of Dover Road, Walmer, explained he visited the head teacher and came away feeling like he was making excuses.

They are now calling for courses to be reinstated for those that have already started and for Year 8 pupils to be notified from the start that they will not be able to take Chinese as a GCSE option.

Head teacher Mr Lee Hunter

In an email sent to parents head teacher Mr Hunter explained that the school’s income will see a decrease of £220,000 in 2014-15 and a further decrease of £250,000 in 2015-16.

On hearing about the parents’ anger, Mr Hunter said: “The school, like the majority of schools with large academic sixth forms across the country, is facing serious cuts to its budget which are most definitely not the result of financial mismanagement by the school.

“The school is trying to source alternative funding to run subjects that have few students taking them, plus also looking at alternative models of how to deliver them on fewer teaching periods.

“Despite the cuts, the school is confident it will still be able to deliver a rigorous, broad and balanced curriculum, and that the subjects run will reflect the option choices of the pupils themselves.”

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