Falling pupil numbers leave Norwich school facing £430,000 deficit

The Hewett School in Norwich. The Hewett School in Norwich.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014
9:22 AM

A dwindling number of pupils at one of Norwich’s biggest schools has left it with a budget deficit of more than £400,000, it has emerged.

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Ten years ago, the Hewett School had 1,500 pupils on its books, but that number has dropped dramatically, with just 734 children enrolled at the Cecil Road secondary school as of September last year.

The average secondary school in Norfolk has between 950 to 1,000 pupils.

And, with funding for schools from the government based on the number of pupils being taught there, that has left the Hewett facing a £430,000 deficit.

That deficit was £600,000 last year and school leaders said they have already taken action to reduce it, such as not replacing staff who have left.

School leaders have reassured parents that education of children will not suffer. They say governors have a three-year plan to remove the deficit.

And they still aim to move from the current ‘good’ rating from inspectors Ofsted to ‘excellent’.

To tackle the deficit further, the school will have to make changes to its leadership and management structure, with posts at risk, while fewer teachers will be needed given the number of pupils is down from 864 in September 2012.

Rob Anthony, associate headteacher at the Hewett School said: “The Hewett School has a budget deficit which was caused by a falling number of secondary age pupils in Norwich over a nine year period.

“From 2016 the demand for places will rise quickly and we expect to take in more students from all parts of the city.

“The governors are working to a three year plan to remove the deficit gradually so as to protect the high achievements of students.

“As part of the plan, leadership and management posts at the school will be restructured, but this will not prevent us moving from an Ofsted grade which is good to one which is outstanding. All teachers may apply for one of the new responsibilities.”

And the number of teachers will be reduced because there are less pupils to teach.

Mr Anthony said: “As a result of changes to the number of students on roll in the 2014-2015 academic year, the school also anticipates the need for fewer teachers. This is a normal process. The school expects that adjustments can be made through the usual staff turnover.

“Each year, all schools have to alter the number of teaching staff up or down to remain within their allocated budget and to continue to provide high-quality education.”

A spokeswoman for Norfolk County Council acknowledged there had been a “trend of late of falling pupil numbers” in secondary schools, but that the county was coming out of that phase and pupil numbers in secondary schools would start to rise.

The Hewett School is a Foundation Trust School and part of the Central Norwich Foundation Trust. The school and its governors are responsible for its budget.

But the council spokeswoman said: “However, when a school has a deficit budget, and as is true in the case of The Hewett School, we work with closely with the headteacher and governors to help them plan how they are going to bring their finances back into balance over two or three years, while still delivering a strong academic performance.

“It is the county council’s priority to ensure every Norfolk child and young person has access to a good school, and we are doing all we can to help The Hewett School get back on track.”

• Do you have a story about your school - or are you a parent with a child at the Hewett who has a view on this story? Call reporter Martin George on 01603 772468 or email martin.george@archant,co.uk

14 comments

  • It's not down to Gove is it? He's a mere puppet acting on the behalf of Theodore Agnew and his ideals. They that pays the moneys, pulls the strings.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • Isnt this this school with three heads?

    Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Monday, February 3, 2014

  • Sorry, that should read ' necessarily'. Fumble fingers syndrome.

    Report this comment

    la barbe

    Monday, February 3, 2014

  • My daughter goes to The Hewett and the person who keeps this school together is Mr Antony... There is a long list of things I could write on the negative side of this school but I believe most teachers there are good and have the interest of the pupils at heart but are restrained by budget

    Report this comment

    coffeebean

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • Also I must add that she wants to stay at take A Levels there so the school must be trying very hard and should be applauded ... It is not there fault it doesn't have enough pupils!

    Report this comment

    coffeebean

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • Maybe, but not necessary true. School budgets are numbers driven and schools are tied to budgets even if circumstances change in year - and they do! And no, I have no connection with the school.

    Report this comment

    la barbe

    Monday, February 3, 2014

  • I went to the Hewett when it was a good Grammer School. Then it went Comprehensive. then it went downhill with pupils smoking outside and low grades. Micheal Goves new ideas will be criticised by the Teacher Unions, but applauded by parents wanting much higher standards brought back into schools.

    Report this comment

    PaulH

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • proof we don't need any new freeacademy secondaries in Norwich?

    Report this comment

    PaddyNR1

    Monday, February 3, 2014

  • I agree with Paddy. It is accepted that pupil numbers fluctuate , especially fall as feeder catchment areas " age" and the first families in new developments grow up but do not move out. Several high schools were closed in yarmouth and now the town seems to need another as the town population swells with moved in families with lots of kids, However, what the EDP should have been asking today, in the light of yet another bit of Gove insanity-a much longer school day and all schools like private schools- is how his trial project for the extended school day has worked at Greenacre. After all the Hoo ha and uncritical reporting the EDP has never followed it up, never produced interviews with staff and parents to prove that the kids have been taught these extra curricular activities by fully qualified experts in the field of the subject and whether each child is now a proficient horse rider and has been taking part in drama productions supervised by fully qualified drama teachers.No publicity photos and no investigations to let us know what really happened at the school sponsored by the man who sponsors our MP and sponsors the Tory party.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • Please excuse the spelling... very cold and fumble fingers today !

    Report this comment

    coffeebean

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • Falling pupil numbers in Norwich schools, hundreds of spare places. The solution? Create Free Schools, in really stupid places as well. I do not know any parent who thinks Gove deserves a round of applause. More than any other Minister, he's the one who is going to lose the Tories the most votes next year.

    Report this comment

    Tom Jeffries

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • So in a nutshell, pupil numbers went down (income), the number of teachers went proportionally down, but the number of high cost senior management staff remained fixed, hence the steady decline into the red.

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Monday, February 3, 2014

  • Parent Power ! and their free choice !

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Friday, February 7, 2014

  • clearly the logical thing to do would be to send all these pupils to one of the new free schools, they are so needed. Of course with unqualified teachers, very inexpensive, it should be easy to balance the books and if the experiment with free schools fails then who cares anyway as many parents seem only to view schools as ways of low cost childminding. Dear gove is talking about extending the working day in schools, an excellent idea. Keep them off the street.

    Report this comment

    davidbrian56

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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