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Canterbury: St Anselm's School plans to cut staff

By Gerry Warren

A cash-strapped city school is proposing cutting staff, classroom support and the length of the school week – or face running out of money.

St St Anselm's School in Canterbury has written to parents describing its bleak financial position, which requires governors to make savings of up to £480,000 a year.

As well as job losses, it is suggesting that one school day of the week, most likely Friday, will finish an hour earlier, at 2.30pm.

St Anselm's School in Canterbury
St Anselm's School in Canterbury

Parents learned of the academy’s plans in a consultation letter from head teacher Mike Walters and the chairman of governors, Dr Mark Johnstone.

In it, they reveal the school is receiving the same funding today as it did five years ago, but that inflation, increased bills and employment costs are forcing it to review its budgets.

Parents are being told: “If we do nothing, we will simply run out of money.

"There is no easy solution to this and it will mean a reduction in the amount of classroom support that we are able to provide to some children on some occasions.”

But they say the school is “not in crisis” and the measures are not a “panicked or rushed” response to the situation.

They also insist classroom time, the core curriculum, pupil resources and pastoral care will not be compromised.

The majority of the savings are expected to come from staff reductions, with support staff likely to be the most at risk.

Head teacher Mike Walters
Head teacher Mike Walters

The letter says: “This is an unsettling and difficult process for those colleagues affected, and it is going to be a challenging time for the school.

“I would ask you to keep the school in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time, in particular those colleagues who are affected by this process and who remain incredibly committed to the school and to your children.”

Governors and the head teacher are now consulting parents on a new school timetable, which would start in September this year.

They say there would be no changes to class sizes or number of teaching groups, and the lost school teaching hour would be made up by reducing extra-curricular activities.

Arrangements for pupils to remain in school on the shorter day, doing supervised homework, would be put in place, as well as with Stagecoach regarding buses for those who do leave early.

St Anselm’s has about 1,000 pupils and is a designated science college, rated good by Ofsted last year. Its consultation with parents on the proposed changes will end on March 7.

Mr Walters declined to comment while the consultation is ongoing.

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