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Reduced funding forces Sir Roger Manwood’s School in Sandwich to cut its hours

By Mercury reporter

A top secondary school has been forced to shorten its hours on a Friday due to crippling budget cuts.

From September, pupils at Sir Roger Manwood’s School in Sandwich will finish at 2pm instead of the current 3.20pm.

It is the latest move by head teacher Lee Hunter to try to balance the books amid a deepening financial crisis caused by government cutbacks.

Head teacher Mr Lee Hunter
Head teacher Mr Lee Hunter

In a letter sent to parents, Mr Hunter confirms the academy in Manwood Road will be moving to reduced hours, with just four periods instead of five on a Friday.

The last period will instead be used for internal staff meetings.

Mr Hunter said: “The school has not taken this decision lightly and it is a direct consequence of the funding pressures being experienced.

“As I said in my March 30 letter, we wish to continue to run our broad and balanced curriculum, cater for the extra classes required due to our ongoing expansion, and continue to run the wide range of extra-curricular activities and overseas trips that we are renowned for.

“But at the same time to do this without employing more teachers or creating an unsustainable workload for them.”

In March, pupils and parents launched a petition after the state school revealed plans to cut sporting sessions to once a fortnight instead of once a week, make classes larger at A-level and ask parents to pay for extra-curricular activities and sport squad fees.

Mr Hunter urged them to instead lobby the government against cuts to education.

Sir Roger Manwood's School in Sandwich
Sir Roger Manwood's School in Sandwich

Some parents have reacted with fury over the latest move, with one even vowing to remove their child from the school and send them to a Dover grammar if they pass the entrance test.

“I was a massive fan of Manwood’s,” said the parent, who asked not to be named.

“Dover Grammar prepared themselves for these cuts over the last five years, whereas Manwood’s seemed to have ignored them until it’s too late and have had to make drastic cuts.”

Mr Hunter said he had considered carefully with governors how the earlier end on Fridays would work for students in terms of getting home on buses and trains.

“This letter was about to be sent out three weeks ago, just at the point Stagecoach announced the consultation on new bus routes and timetable,” he said.

“Therefore, we delayed sending the letter until we had more detail.

“If the provisional timetables change, we will look to alter the timings of our day to match them, but we feel we can no longer delay this letter.”

He stressed the school, which is one of the highest performing at GCSE in Kent, would remain open every Friday until 3.20pm so students who needed to stay longer could do so, under the supervision of staff.

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