Deficit budget is affecting morale at Sir Robert Hitcham primary school in Suffolk, says Ofsted

Sir Robert Hitcham CEVAP School, Debenham. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Sir Robert Hitcham CEVAP School, Debenham. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

The education inspectorate made the comments in a new inspection report for primary school, based in Debenham near Stowmarket, which lost its ‘good’ judgement.

Not enough able pupils have achieved the expected standards in Year Six in the last three years, partly due to varied teaching which is now improving, Ofsted said in its justification for the new ‘requires improvement’ rating.

Robert Greatrex, lead inspector, wrote: “The recent past has not been an easy time for Sir Robert Hitcham School.

“A deficit budget has affected everyone’s morale and restricted the resources available for the headteacher to rapidly implement the changes needed. While improving, the financial situation is still not fully resolved.”

His comments come amid concerns over school funding at every school in Suffolk, caused by the government’s proposed and controversial national funding formula.

If it is approved, 56 out of 300 schools in Suffolk would have budget cuts – a total of £1.2m.

Sir Robert Hitcham primary would receive a 2.5% budget increase, from £682,000 to £699,000, from September 2018. But experts have warned all schools face real-terms cut due to inflationary pressures and ‘stealth taxes’.

Broken down, the early years provision category was rated ‘good’, but the other four were rated ‘requires improvement’.

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Mr Greatrex praised Julia van Ek, the school’s headteacher, for her “strong and decisive” leadership, as well as new English and maths subject leaders who are “skilled and enthusiastic”.

He added: “They know what needs to be done, and have begun to make substantial changes.”

Mrs van Ek said she is confident of achieving a ‘good’ Ofsted rating after their next inspection.

She said: “While we are disappointed with the grading, we are pleased that the staff, subject leaders and governors have demonstrated a clear understanding of what is working well and have shown that they know what we need to do to improve.

“It is also pleasing that Ofsted recognised the importance of our broad curriculum and celebrated our work to support pupils’ social and emotional needs.”