Thetford Grammar School headmaster has said decline in pupil numbers has not helped school finances
PUBLISHED: 18:32 03 March 2017 | UPDATED: 18:43 03 March 2017
The headmaster of Thetford Grammar School has said the school’s financial position is “not as rosy as it could be”.
Mark Bedford, who took up the position in September 2015, said the school’s intake numbers have dropped by about 100 pupils over the past 10 years.
The independent day school can take a maximum of 350 pupils and currently has 221.
A reduction in the number of pupils means less income for the school, which spends a lot of money maintaining its Grade I and II listed buildings.
Mr Bedford said the recession in 2008 has had an impact on the number of children attending independent schools.
“I am aware our financial position is not as rosy as it could be,” he said. “Pupil roll has declined and we are taking steps to make sure that at the end of the day we are providing good quality education.
“I am aware that we could do with having more children in the school. We have different schools around us and parents make the best choice for them. Some parents will say, ‘we just cannot afford that’.”
The library at the school dates back to the 16th century and Mr Bedford said a quote for its stain glass windows ran into the thousands.
He said the school’s old buildings with their high ceilings and single-glazed windows are good at “sucking money out of the school budget”.
To help the situation, the school is in the process of applying for grants from Breckland Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which can be used to help with the maintenance of the buildings to free up money to improve facilities for the pupils.
“Certainly if money was freed up I could then reinvest that in more things,” Mr Bedford said. “If we didn’t have that hanging over us we could allocate it on teaching provisions.”
If the funding from the HLF fund is substantial, Mr Bedford said the school would also like to create a Thomas Paine museum to house artefacts and memorabilia about the former pupil for the pupils and public to see.
The school also plans to set up a bank account for which the grant money will go into along with money collected by pupils and their parents in money boxes issued by the school.