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High school still on financial warning list

Created on 16/11/2020 @ 10:53

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Four warning notices issued to schools with dire financial problems have been withdrawn, but Welshpool High School is one of nine still under the microscope.

The school is working with Powys County Council staff from the education and financial services to sort out the problems and cut down the debt.

The county council’s Learning and Skills Committee were told that the financial issues are slowly getting better overall with the cumulative deficits previously projected to hit £6.5 million by March 31, 2021 and £7.8 million by March 31, 2022. But after work with schools these estimates have now been revised down to  £4.7 million and £4.9 million respectively.

Education Chief Operating officer, Lynette Lovell, said: “We obviously have an issue and we need to improve the quality of financial management in schools and address those with significant deficit budgets.

“In July 2019, 12 warning notices were issued for schools that had escalating deficit. That brought the total number to 13.

“Since that time we started to work with these schools, they came in for meetings with myself, Jane Thomas (head of finance), challenge advisers and human resources.”

Ms Lovell added that these meetings continued every six weeks or so, where schools were given “clear actions” to do in between the meetings.

The projected budgets were then reviewed again last summer giving the slightly better scenario. This is based on data from school budget plans for the next three years.

Ms Lovell said: “We withdrew four of these notices, they are primary schools that have taken action to bring their budgets back into a licensed position.

“Recovery plans have been submitted by schools on warning notices in October and we’ve been looking at those.

“There is evidence that a further two schools are coming in to balance, and we will review those warning notices in January, to ensure the budget plan does happen and reduces the deficit.”

Ms Lovell added: “It does remain a concern but schools are working well with council officers to bring their budgets in to balance and halt the growth of deficits.”

Once the growth is halted and consolidated, Ms Lovell said work could then begin to bring them down.

The committee voted to discuss individual schools situation in a confidential session.

The list of schools with warning notices was made public in documents published earlier this year:

Brecon High School

Ysgol Bro Hyddgen (Machynlleth)

Ysgol Calon Cymru (Builth Wells and Llandrindod Wells)

Crickhowell High School

Ysgol Maesydderwen (Ystradgynlais)

Welshpool High School

Brynhafren County Primary School  (Crew Green)

Ysgol Gymaeg Dyffryn Y Glowyr (Cwm-Twrch)

Ysgol Cedewain Special School (Newtown)

Schools which had warning notices but reported improved surplus budgets were:

Carreghofa County Primary School (Llanymynech)

Ysgol Cefnllys – Llandrindod Wells

Presteigne County Primary School

Ysgol-Y- Bannau  (Brecon)

Llanerfyl Church in Wales Foundation school was also listed as having a warning notice – but closed on August 31.


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