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'It's a tragedy they have had to ask': Cash-strapped school asks parents for help with summer repairs

PUBLISHED: 09:15 25 July 2019 | UPDATED: 12:05 25 July 2019

Kelvin and Hannah Colbourn with children Nell and Mollie, who is a pupil at Avnue Junior School in Norwich, The family is supporting the school's plea for parents to help with general maintenance over the summer. Picture: Hannah Colbourn

Kelvin and Hannah Colbourn with children Nell and Mollie, who is a pupil at Avnue Junior School in Norwich, The family is supporting the school's plea for parents to help with general maintenance over the summer. Picture: Hannah Colbourn

Hannah Colbourn

A school is asking parents for help with routine refurbishments and repairs over the summer after funding pressures forced it to cut its maintenance budget.

Malissa Rayfield with children Betty, Rose and Daisy. Betty and Daisy attend Avenue Junior School in Norwich, which is asking parents to help with general maintenance over the summer. Picture: Hannah ColbournMalissa Rayfield with children Betty, Rose and Daisy. Betty and Daisy attend Avenue Junior School in Norwich, which is asking parents to help with general maintenance over the summer. Picture: Hannah Colbourn

Avenue Junior School has organised a day for families to help with tasks such as painting and gardening on Sunday, August 25.

In a message to parents this week, executive headteacher Debbie Dismore said the school's "difficult financial position" had forced it to make cuts to all areas of spending, including the upkeep of its Victorian building.

Jobs which need completing include repainting, window-cleaning, pruning and hedge-trimming as well as other general repairs.

Ms Dismore said decorators and gardeners were normally contracted in the summer break to complete these tasks, but that this year the school could not cover the expense.

Avenue Junior headteacher Debbie Dismore

, pictured when she started the job in 2010. Picture: ArchantAvenue Junior headteacher Debbie Dismore , pictured when she started the job in 2010. Picture: Archant

"We have had cuts to our budget over a number of years and it has left us in a difficult financial position, like a lot of schools," she said.

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"It is not acceptable that we are not given enough money to provide a good-quality education and also to maintain the building.

"We have to keep it looking nice for the children and there are parts that are crumbling that we cannot afford to improve."

In response to previous questions about school funding, the government has said it is pumping more money into education than ever before.

Avenue Junior parents were quick to rally around their school, which is in Norwich's sought-after Golden Triangle area.

Hannah Colbourn, parent to a child in year four at the school, said: "My family will be volunteering, but this is such a sorry reflection on the state of the education system that our school has had to resort to this."

Malissa Rayfield, whose has children in years three and four, said: "It's a tragedy that the school has to ask at all. Funding cuts send the message to our children that they aren't worth paying for. We will do all we can to protect them from this and I think more communities will pull together because they have to."

Rebecca Harris, whose has children in years four and six, said: "The community will step up and help our brilliant school, but we are also furious about what austerity measures have done to real people at the grass roots of our education system."

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